PARIS – U.S. Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl has told people treating him at an American military medical facility in Germany that he was tortured, beaten and held in a cage by his Taliban captors in Afghanistan after he tried to escape, a senior U.S. official said Sunday.
The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss what Bergdahl has revealed about the conditions of his captivity. The New York Times first reported on the matter.
The official said it was difficult to verify the accounts Bergdahl has given since his release a week ago.
Bergdahl, now 28, was captured in June 2009 after he disappeared from his infantry unit. He was held for nearly five years by Taliban militants.
Taliban spokesmen could not be immediately reached for comment Sunday. On Friday, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told the AP that Bergdahl was held under good conditions.
Military doctors at the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center say that while Bergdahl is physically able to travel he’s not yet emotionally prepared to be reunited with his family. He has not yet spoken to his family.
It’s unclear when he may get to go home.
The Pentagon said in a statement Sunday that it would not comment on Bergdahl’s discussions with those caring for him.
Bergdahl was returned to the U.S. military in exchange for the release of five Taliban militants from the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
It would have been offensive and incomprehensible to consciously leave an American behind, no matter what, Secretary of State John Kerry said.
Qatar, a tiny Gulf state, served as a go-between during the negotiations, and has an ongoing role in ensuring the five released prisoners remain there for at least a year, under a memo of understanding with the U.S. The Qataris aren’t the only ones keeping an eye on them, Kerry said in an interview broadcast Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union.
He said the U.S. has confidence in the restrictions imposed on the former detainees.
I am not telling you that they don’t have some ability at some point to go back and get involved in the terrorism fight against the United States, Kerry said.
But they also have an ability to get killed doing that, and I don’t think anybody should doubt the capacity of the United States of America to protect Americans. So these guys pick a fight with us in the future or now or at any time at enormous risk, Kerry said.