Judge: Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl won't face jail time, will be dishonorably discharged

Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl right arrives at the Fort Bragg courtroom facility for a sentencing hearing at Fort Bragg N.C. Friday Nov. 3 2017. Bergdahl who walked off his base in Afghanistan in 2009 and was held by the Taliban for five years pleaded

U.S. President Donald Trump condemned a military judge's order on Friday to spare Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl from prison after he pleaded guilty to deserting his post in Afghanistan in 2009.

The Army soldier, who the Taliban held for five years after he deserted his Afghanistan outpost, pleaded guilty last month to the charges. In a press conference, Fidell said that Bergdahl would appeal his dishonorable discharge. The dishonorable discharge means he won't be eligible for VA healthcare or other veterans benefits.

Prosecutors acknowledged that Bergdahl suffered during his years as a prisoner of the Taliban, but argued that did not diminish the pain of fellow service members who were injured during the futile hunt for him.

US President Donald Trump condemned the military judge's decision on Twitter, calling it a "complete and total disgrace to our Country and to our Military".

Trump's tweet came about 90 minutes after the sentence was announced.

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Bergdahl testified for two hours and described the brutal conditions he endured while held captive by the Taliban. He didn't give an indication of when he would hand down Bergdahl's sentence.

Bergdahl's defense lawyers twice tried to have the case dismissed over campaign trail comments from President Trump.

"Trump - when he was a candidate, of course - made really extraordinary and reprehensible comments targeted directly at our client", Fidell said Friday.

Bergdahl's lawyers asked the judge for leniency during sentencing hearings, arguing he had a previously undiagnosed mental illness when he left his post.

Capt. Nina Banks, a defense attorney, said it would not be justice to rescue Bergdahl from the Taliban "only to place him in a cell" now. A psychiatrist testified that Bergdahl was suffering from schizotypal personality disorder, a schizophrenia-like condition, and post-traumatic stress disorder when he walked away in Afghanistan.

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The judge began deliberating Thursday after hearing closing arguments by defense attorneys, who asked for no prison time, and prosecutors who are seeking 14 years behind bars.

"Sergeant Bergdahl does not have a monopoly on suffering as a result of his choices", said Major Justin Oshana, a prosecutor. He was traded for five high profile GITMO detainees in May 2014 by President Obama.

Trump has never been a fan of Bergdahl - in March 2017, he called Bergdahl a "dirty, rotten traitor".

Without confinement hanging over him, Bergdahl already has a job offer from an animal sanctuary, and a military official who helps design survival training said he would like to use Bergdahl as a part of lectures to service members on how to survive captivity.

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