The Army Court of Criminal Appeals has suspended the much-anticipated litigation against embattled U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl. The ruling comes after prosecutors went to the court to review the decision of Col. Jeffery Nance, the Army judge that ordered them to turn over hundreds of thousands of classified documents to the defense.
Last month, Bergdahl and his defense team appeared before Nance and argued for access to the documents. Prosecutors tried to assert the sensitive nature of the material, but, in a later decision, Nance ruled that the defense should have access to it. As fayobserver.com reports, the prosecution filed notice on February 5 that they would seek an appeal of the decision from the Army Court of Criminal Appeals. That court has now directed that litigation halt as it reviews the request.
One of Bergdahl's attorneys, Lt. Col. Frank Rosenblatt, has remained adamant that his team's access to documents is key to properly defending his client in court-- and that it is unreasonable that the prosecution was able to spend two months reviewing them. "That team has enjoyed continuous access to all classified materials to aid their case preparation," a motion from January 26 reads. According to Rosenblatt, despite his team's effort to secure proper clearance to see the documents, they have only seen 900 of the 300,000 pages. "In other words, the defense to date has had access to less than 0.3 percent of the classified materials in the case," the same motion reads.
NO REVIEW DEADLINE
The Army Court of Criminal Appeals has stated no deadline for its review of the prosecution's request, leaving Bergdahl's case in limbo. Rosenblatt wrote to Nance on February 5, stating "We are concerned that the stay creates an impediment to progress on an essential aspect of trial preparation involving hundreds of thousands of pages. The stay triggered by the government's appeal materially threatens the trial schedule and the defense's opportunity to be prepared by the date set for trial."
Bergdahl stands accused of desertion and misbehavior before the enemy, the latter of which could result in the life sentence. In 2009, he left his Afghanistan post and was later captured by Taliban operatives, who kept him in captivity for five years. According to Bergdahl—and his unfolding story currently being told on the Serial podcast—he left his post to reach a nearby base where he could report what he felt were critical and life-threatening failings with his unit's leadership.
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