Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl has told medical officials that his captors locked him in a metal cage in total darkness for weeks at a time as punishment for trying to escape, and while military doctors say he now is physically able to travel he is not yet emotionally ready for the pressures of reuniting with his family, according to American officials who have been briefed on his condition.
Sergeant Bergdahl, who was released last Saturday to American commandos in Afghanistan in exchange for five Taliban detainees held at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, remains in a military hospital in Germany without access to news media — and thus is oblivious to the raging criticism from many.
He has received a letter from his sister but has not yet responded, and objects when hospital staff address him as sergeant instead of private first class, his rank when he was captured nearly five years ago, the official said.
Sergeant Bergdahl, 28, in some ways seems healthier than expected. He suffers from skin and gum disorders typical of poor hygiene and exposure, but otherwise is physically sound, an official said.
“He has said that they kept him in a shark cage in total darkness for weeks, possibly months,” said an official. He was kept there apparently as punishment for one, or possibly two, attempted escapes.
“It’s safe to assume” that Sergeant Bergdahl was “held in harsh conditions,” a senior official said Saturday. “These are Taliban, not wet nurses.”
One thing that rubs Bergdahl wrong, officials say, is when hospital staff call him “sergeant,” the result of two automatic promotions while a captive.
“He says, ‘Don’t call me that,’” said one American official. “‘I didn’t go before the boards. I didn’t earn it.’”
Washington: US authorities are investigating threats against the family of former Taliban prisoner Bowe Bergdahl. An FBI spokesman said: “The FBI continues to monitor the situation in Hailey, Idaho. We are taking each threat seriously.” Bergdahl’s hometown abruptly canceled plans on Wednesday for a welcome-home celebration, citing security concerns after receiving hate mail. AP