Afghan Taliban releases video of US soldier handover
The 17-minute video purports to show Bowe Bergdahl, clean-shaven and wearing all white, sitting in the back seat of a white pick-up truck as armed Taliban militants stand guard around the valley and hills. Bergdahl is seen blinking in the bright light as militant talks to him.
"We told them there are 18 armed fighters and the Americans said that's alright," the Taliban reporter speaking over the clip explains, according to Reuters.
Shortly before a helicopter meant to pick up the US sergeant lands, Bergdahl - still in the car - is seen listening to a Taliban militant speaking. As he is tapping the man on shoulder, the message in English flashes up: "Don' come back to afghanistan [sic]."
As soon as one of the helicopters lands, two Taliban men lead Bergdahl to his rescuers. They are greeted by three men who shake their hands and take Bergdahl with them and lead him by the arm to the helicopter.
Briefly searched before boarding, Bergdahl climbs up inside the aircraft. As it takes off, the slogan "Don’ come back to afghanistan” reappears on the clip.
The video's authenticity could not be immediately verified.
Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who was the only American solider held prisoner in Afghanistan, was set free early on May 31. Several dozen US Special Forces troops and about 18 Taliban fighters took part in the exchange.
Bergdahl, from Hailey, Idaho, was captured by a Taliban wing known as the Haqqani network five years ago, on June 30, 2009.
The released soldier was reportedly moved to a hospital in Germany and is expected to return to the US soon. But as he gets home, some of his former colleagues say he should be held responsible.
Republican lawmakers denounced the swap with the Taliban as a “very dangerous precedent.”
Shortly after his release, United States Army soldiers who served along with Bergdahl in Afghanistan also voiced their criticism, accusing him of being a deserter and, hence, guilty of the deaths of “soldiers from his own unit” who were “trying to track him down.”