Bowe Bergdahl, the U.S. soldier released after five years of detention in a controversial exchange for U.S.-held Taliban members, has returned to the United States, the Pentagon confirmed on Friday.
Mr. Bergdahl was released May 31, but has been convalescing in a U.S. military medical facility in Landstuhl, Germany, since. That process will now continue at the Brooke Army Medical Centre in San Antonio, Texas.
“He will continue the next phase of his reintegration process. There is no timeline for this process,” said Pentagon press secretary Rear Admiral John Kirby. “Our focus remains on his health and well-being.” The U.S. Army sergeant spent five years in captivity.
However, relief at his safe return has been tempered by controversy about the decision to trade his freedom for five Taliban detainees who had been held at the U.S.-operated Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba.
The decision resulted in an outcry led by opposition Republicans.
Critics of the exchange say President Barack Obama gave up too many high-ranking detainees in the swap and carried out the exchange without prior notification of Congress.
Members of Mr. Bergdahl’s unit added fuel to the fire when they accused him of desertion.
U.S. Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel defended the handling of the prisoner exchange, telling Congress on Wednesday that the time frame for obtaining Mr. Bergdahl’s release was narrow and uncertain, forcing the decision to proceed before congressional notification could be given.
“We grew increasingly concerned that any delay or any leaks could derail the deal and further endanger Sergeant Bergdahl,” Mr. Hagel said.
Mr. Kirby said Mr. Hagel is “confident that the army will continue to ensure that Sgt. Bergdahl receives the care, time and space he needs to complete his recovery and reintegration.”