The U.S. Army said today (December 14, 2015) it would refer the desertion case of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl to the highest level military court-martial -- which can impose the harshest of penalties -- the USA Today website reports.
Berghdal, 29, is charged with walking off his post in Afghanistan in 2009 before he was captured by Taliban insurgents, who held him for nearly five years.
The Army decision to hold a "general court-martial" preserves the option to impose punishment up to life in prison if Bergdahl is found guilty.
In 2014, the Obama administration exchanged Bergdahl for the release of five Taliban prisoners held in Guantanamo Bay in a weird deal that triggered outrage from many members of Congress, with some even accusing Bergdahl of treason by joining the Taliban. Also, several of his platoon mates in Afghanistan said Bergdahl let his colleagues down by walking off his post, and then put soldiers at risk when a manhunt was launched in an effort to find him.