Bergdahl trial faces delay over legal wrangling

WASHINGTON — Army Sgt Bowe Bergdahl, who faces desertion and misbehavior charges for abandoning his post in Afghanistan, is expected to appear at a court hearing Tuesday amid legal wrangling over secret documents that could delay his trial.

The pretrial hearing is scheduled at Fort Bragg, N.C., according to an Army statement.

The statement did not detail what issues the hearing would address. But Maj. Justin Oshana, a prosecutor, said his team has collected 1.5 million pages of documents in connection with requests from Bergdahl’s defense lawyers for information about their client’s capture by Taliban militants and five years in captivity.

In a motion filed last week, the prosecutors recommended moving the trial date to Dec. 8.  It is currently scheduled for Aug. 8.

Legal experts said that trials involving large amounts of classified documents can delay proceedings. “The administrative issues here, where there are hundreds of documents that are classified, can be difficult and slow things down,” said Philip Cave, a retired Navy judge advocate now in private practice.

Bergdahl was captured by militants in 2009 after walking off his post in Afghanistan. He was released in 2014 in exchange for five Taliban detainees who were in U.S. custody.