Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, the American soldier held captive for nearly five years by militants during the Afghanistan war, has been released, the White House said Saturday.
Credit: U.S. Army
"Today the American people are pleased that we will be able to welcome home Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, held captive for nearly five years," the White House said in a statement.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel says the U.S. had to act quickly to win the release of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl because his "safety and health were both in jeopardy."
Hagel says that's why officials didn't tell Congress they had made a deal with the Taliban to release five high-level Afghan detainees from the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Republican lawmakers say that violated a U.S. law requiring Congress to be notified 30 days in advance.
"Sgt. Bergdahl is now under the care of the U.S. military after being handed over by his captors in Afghanistan. We will give him all the support he needs to help him recover from this ordeal, and we are grateful that he will soon be reunited with his family," Hagel Said.
Hagel said the United States "coordinated closely with Qatar to ensure that security measures are in place and the national security of the United States will not be compromised."
The White House said, "On behalf of the American people, I was honored to call his parents to express our joy that they can expect his safe return, mindful of their courage and sacrifice throughout this ordeal."
Bergdahl was deployed to Afghanistan in May 2009 and captured by the Taliban on June 30, 2009, in Paktika province.
In July of that year, a U.S. military official said the soldier was being held by the clan of warlord Siraj Haqqani.