US & Canada

Sgt Bowe Bergdahl arrives back in US

Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio
Bergdahl arrived at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio on Friday morning

A US soldier held by the Taliban for five years has arrived in Texas to continue his treatment after spending some time recovering in Germany.

Sgt Bowe Bergdahl, 28, is being taken to a military medical centre for the next part of what the military calls a "reintegration mission".

Officials previously said he would be reunited with his family there.

Sgt Bergdahl was freed in a hugely controversial exchange for five Taliban commanders held at Guantanamo Bay.

The US soldier left Ramstein Air Base earlier on Thursday aboard a US military aircraft and arrived in San Antonio early on Friday morning.

A US Army statement said a review into the circumstances of his disappearance from a military base in Afghanistan in 2009 would take place after his treatment had finished. Fellow soldiers accuse him of desertion.

"Our first priority is making sure that Sgt Bergdahl continues to get the care and support he needs," Pentagon press secretary Rear Adm John Kirby said in an earlier statement.

He had been recuperating at a military hospital in Germany since his release.

How to 'reintegrate' a returning POW

Taylor Brown, BBC News, Washington

In a press briefing about the US military's reintegration process, a defence department psychologist likened it to how one might take time to come to grips with a bad day at work before dealing with the responsibilities of home and daily life.

A prisoner of war has had his ability to make choices taken away during captivity, the psychologist said.

To ease him back into what would otherwise be an overwhelming series of decisions, military psychologists explicitly describe to returning captives what they can expect in the near future and when they will have to make choices.

"We start off by giving them the ability to predict," sometimes down to an hour-by-hour schedule, said the defence psychologist, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

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Critics of the prisoner swap, which include some Democrats, have objected to the fact Congress was not given notice of the deal. They say the Taliban detainees are too dangerous to free.

Shortly Sgt Bergdahl's release, several commentators and soldiers came forward to brand him a deserter and call for him to be punished.

The Pentagon has concluded he left his post in Paktika province without authorisation but it is unclear if he intended to desert. The Army has said it will investigate the circumstances of his capture, leaving open the possibility he could be prosecuted for misconduct.

His family has received death threats and a welcoming party in his hometown in the state of Idaho was cancelled amid safety concerns.

Sgt Bergdahl has not made any public comment since his release, but on Thursday, the Daily Beast website published a letter it said was one of two he sent to his parents during his captivity, through the International Red Cross.

In the letter, which the BBC has not verified, he says he left because conditions were deteriorating at the base.

Excerpts of his journals sent to a friend before he went missing, published by the Washington Post, suggest a young soldier struggling to handle the mental stress of war.

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