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Bowe Bergdahl desertion trial delayed

By Andrew V. Pestano
Bowe Bergdahl desertion trial delayed
The start of the trial of alleged deserter Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, an American soldier captured in 2009 in Afghanistan and held hostage by the Taliban for five years, has been pushed back until May 15 over issues related to the defense's access to evidence. Photo courtesy of the U.S. Army

FORT BRAGG, N.C., Nov. 14 (UPI) -- The military court-martial of alleged deserter Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl was delayed until May 15 during a pre-trial hearing at Fort Bragg on Monday.

Last month, Bergdahl's lawyers requested the trial be pushed back until June, saying the defense had not received or been able to review classified evidence.

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The prosecution was ordered to hand over the evidence but the government said it could not do so until the defense team was equipped with software capable of viewing the evidence safely. The government and prosecution had the responsibility of allowing the defense to be equipped with the capacity to handle classified evidence.

Judge Jeffery Nance said the government was causing "unnecessary delay" in preventing the trial from moving forward. The trial was scheduled to begin in February.

Bergdahl, 30, has secret clearance but some of the evidence in the case is labeled "top secret" -- meaning Bergdahl may not have access to some evidence used against him.

Bergdahl is charged with one count of desertion with intent to avoid hazardous duty or shirk important service and one count of misbehavior before the enemy. He was captured by the Haqqani Network, an ally of the Taliban, in 2009 after he left his combat post in Afghanistan.

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He was held captive by the Taliban for five years, being released May 2014 in a prisoner swap with five Taliban leaders held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

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