The only American POW held in Afghanistan is now free—but experts believe it could take Bowe Bergdahl a very long time to get over the physical and psychological damage of his years in captivity. It's not clear whether he was tortured by his captors, but he is physically weakened and experts say that at a minimum, he would have faced the fear of death daily at the hands of a group known for its ruthlessness. For now, the 28-year-old is at a hospital in Germany and military officials say he will need a lot of medical treatment and counseling before he can go home to Idaho, the New York Times reports. The Guardian adds, by way of his father, that Bergdahl is struggling to speak English after so many years in captivity. To wit, his father sent him a message—in Pashtu. More:
- In a move certain to increase the anger of Republicans who opposed the release of senior Taliban commanders from Guantanamo Bay to Qatar in exchange for the soldier, Taliban chief Mullah Omar has made a rare public statement praising the deal, the BBC reports. "I extend my heartfelt congratulations to the entire Afghan Muslim nation," he said.
- The White House has praised Bergdahl's release, but some soldiers from his platoon want him to face trial for desertion, CNN finds. There are conflicting accounts of how he was captured in 2009, but platoon members say he walked away from his post while on guard duty—and at least six other soldiers were killed during searches for him. A senior military official, however, says it is unlikely Bergdahl will face charges after his ordeal. "Five years is enough," he says.
- Another critic of the release: the Afghan government. "No government can transfer citizens of a country to a third country as prisoners," the country's foreign ministry complained in a statement. Senior Afghan officials see the deal as another sign of a US wish to rapidly disengage from Afghanistan, and fear the freed commanders will return to step up the insurgency as most foreign troops prepare to leave the country, reports Reuters.
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