Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl was arraigned today and made his first appearance in front of a judge in a military court at Fort Bragg in North Carolina. Bergdahl, who was held captive by the Taliban for five years before returning to the U.S. after a controversial trade for five Taliban officials being held at Guantánamo, has been charged with desertion and misbehavior in front of the enemy. The circumstances of his disappearance from a base in Afghanistan in 2009 is the subject of the second season of “Serial,” which debuted earlier this month.
Bergdahl will face a court martial — which could end with him spending the rest of his life in prison if he is convicted of the rare misbehavior charge — next year.
Tuesday’s hearing was short, and Bergdahl, who wore an Army dress uniform, delayed many of the big decisions for now. He deferred entering a plea and the decision of whether he wants to face a jury of soldiers or only a judge. According to CNN, he barely spoke; his responses mostly consisted of a series of “Sir, yes, sir”s. The next hearing is scheduled for January 12.
In the second episode of “Serial,” Bergdahl tells filmmaker Mark Boal that he thought he probably wouldn’t take a plea deal because he wanted the opportunity to explain why he had left the base. In the season premiere, Bergdahl said that he had “this fantastic idea that I was going to prove to the world that, you know, I was the real thing. You know, I could be, you know, what … I could be what it is that every … you know, all those guys out there who go to the movies and watch those movies, they all want to be that. But I wanted to prove that I was that. … I was trying to find a solution to the problem at hand.”