Bergdahl spared from prison, Trump calls sentence 'disgrace'

No prison time for U.S. Army deserter Bergdahl

Judge rules no jail time for Bergdahl

He faced a maximum sentence of life in prison.

During a hearing Friday in Fort Bragg, N.C., Bergdahl was sentenced to dishonorable discharge, forfeiture of $1,000 in pay per month and a reduction in rank from sergeant to private, according to a statement from the Army. The dishonorable discharge means he won't be eligible for VA healthcare or other veterans benefits.

"The decision on Sergeant Bergdahl is a complete and total disgrace to our Country and to our Military", Trump wrote in a post on Twitter.

In 2009, Bergdahl abandoned his outpost in Afghanistan and was captured by the Taliban.

Asked by phone about his reaction to Bergdahl's sentence, he said: "I've had had better days".

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As a last resort, Bergdahl issued an apology at the end of the trial, saying he was sorry for putting others at risk in their efforts to find him.

"Trump - when he was a candidate, of course - made really extraordinary and reprehensible comments targeted directly at our client", Fidell said Friday.

Prosecutors had asked Army Colonel Jeffery Nance to send Bergdahl to prison for 14 years for the hardships and injuries endured by service members who searched for the soldier after he left his combat outpost in Paktika province in June 2009 without permission.

Bergdahl suffered from numerous mental illnesses, including schizotypal personality disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder; and Dr. Charles Morgan, a forensic psychiatrist and professor at the University of New Haven and Yale University testified on Wednesday that Bergdahl suffered these problems before enlisting. The argument for leniency also cited harsh campaign-trail criticism by Trump.

Capt. Nina Banks, a defense attorney, said it would not be justice to rescue Bergdahl from the Taliban "only to place him in a cell" now.

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Prosecutors said the soldier should spend 14 years behind bars for endangering United States troops in Afghanistan.

"We're exhausted of Sgt. Bergdahl, who's a traitor, a no-good traitor, who should have been executed", Trump said at an October 2015 rally, for example.

Without confinement hanging over him, Bergdahl already has a job offer from an animal sanctuary, and a military official who helps design survival training said he would like to use Bergdahl as a part of lectures to service members on how to survive captivity.

Bergdahl became a political talking point in 2014 after President Barack Obama's administration traded five detainees at Guantanamo Bay in exchange for his release. He has been working a desk job at a military installation in San Antonio and was not under any pretrial restrictions.

Trump has never been a fan of Bergdahl - in March 2017, he called Bergdahl a "dirty, rotten traitor".

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