U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, right, stands next to a Taliban member in eastern Afghanistan during his release. (Voice Of Jihad / AP)
Paris — U.S. Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl has told people treating him at an American military medical facility in Germany that he was tortured, beaten and held in a cage by his Taliban captors in Afghanistan after he tried to escape, a senior U.S. official said Sunday.
The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss what Bergdahl has revealed about the conditions of his captivity. The New York Times first reported on the matter.
Bergdahl, now 28, was captured in June 2009 after he disappeared from his infantry unit. He was held for nearly five years by Taliban militants.
Taliban spokesmen could not be immediately reached for comment Sunday. On Friday, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told The Associated Press by telephone that Bergdahl was held under “good conditions.” The claim could not be independently verified.
Military doctors at the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center say that while Bergdahl is physically able to travel he’s not yet emotionally prepared to be reunited with his family.
He has not yet spoken to his family. It’s unclear when he may get to go home.
Bergdahl was returned to the U.S. military in exchange for the release of five Taliban militants from the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
“It would have been offensive and incomprehensible to consciously leave an American behind, no matter what,” Secretary of State John Kerry said.
U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Howell, chair of the House Intelligence Committee, said he is convinced the five Taliban members transferred from the Guantanamo detention center will return to the battlefield against the United States.
“We are going to pay for this decision for years,” Rogers told George Stephanopoulos on “This Week.”
Kerry said the U.S. will be ending its combat role in Afghanistan and have fewer people in positions of risk.