Bowe Bergdahl’s Parents Receive Death Threats As Son Begins Recovery

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Photo: Scott Olson/2014 Getty Images

While the public still doesn't have much real information about the events surrounding Bowe Bergdahl's capture in Afghanistan, there is more than enough speculation, partisan jockeying, and conspiracy-theorizing to go around. So unfortunately, it's no surprise that the freed POW's parents, Bob and Jani Bergdahl, have been receiving death threats. "We are working jointly with our state and local partners and taking each threat seriously," said a statement released by the FBI, which declined to elaborate on the nature of the threats.

Local officials from Bergdahl's hometown of Hailey, Idaho told The Wall Street Journal that last week's planned celebration for the POW was canceled because of the threats. "There is just a huge array of venom that has inundated the page and unfortunately some of it does talk about physical harm in one form or another to the Bergdahls or the town itself," said Maggie Springer, who had been one of the event's organizers. Springer explained that "disturbing" comments were left on a Facebook page for the town's annual Memorial Day celebration, where she had posted a news story about Bergdahl. "They go as far as to mention that Bowe should be put in front of firing squad, and that Bob should be put through the same."

The Bergdahls haven't been seen in public since last week, when their son's release — and the controversial Taliban prisoner swap that secured it — was announced. They still haven't spoken to the 28-year-old, who is is recovering at the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany. "Physically, he could be put on a plane to the U.S. tomorrow, but there are still a couple of mental criteria to address: the family unification piece and the media exposure piece," a military official told the New York Times. Bergdahl, who has been kept away from the news coverage of his situation, is reportedly suffering from "skin and gum disorders typical of poor hygiene and exposure," but is otherwise in good health. Officials told the Times that the Taliban may have started taking better care of their prisoner in anticipation of sending him back to the United States.

The Times reports that Bergdahl's doctors haven't yet started pressing him to explain why he left his outpost in Afghanistan back in 2009. They have, however, gotten some details about the five years he spent as a prisoner of war. "He's said that they kept him in a shark cage in total darkness for weeks, possibly months," said one official. The cage may have been punishment for the two escape attempts he reportedly made during his time in captivity.