Tags: Afghanistan | Bowe Bergdahl Freed | bergdahl | captivity | health | detail | times

Report: Taliban Kept Bergdahl in 'Shark Cage'

By Elliot Jager   |   Sunday, 08 Jun 2014 07:53 AM

Bowe Bergdahl is asking the team caring for him at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany not to refer to him as sergeant, The New York Times reported.

Some details are emerging about the conditions Bergdahl endured while in captivity. He told military doctors that, as punishment for trying to escape, the Taliban locked him in a dark, metal 'shark cage.'

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"He’s said that they kept him in a shark cage in total darkness for weeks, possibly months," one American official told the Time.  He was kept there apparently as punishment for possibly two attempted escapes. That was originally reported by the Daily Beast but officials confirmed the information to the Times.

There are few apparent signs that he was malnourished. He weighs about 160 pounds. Due to poor hygiene during his confinement, he has skin and gum disorders, the Times reported.

Doctors say that psychologically he is not ready to head back to the United States, where his treatment is to continue at a San Antonio military medical center. Afterwards, he would slowly be eased into a homecoming with his family in Hailey, Idaho.

"There is no predetermined time line for Sgt. Bergdahl's recovery process. The duration will continue to be based on the pace of his healing and reintegration process," according to a Landstuhl press statement, The Christian Science Monitor reported.

The facility said that Bergdahl was showing "signs of improvement" and was "becoming more engaged in his treatment-care plan," the Times reported.

"Physically, he could be put on a plane to the U.S. tomorrow, but there are still a couple of mental criteria to address: the family unification piece and the media exposure piece," an American official told the Times.

The administration contends that concern over Bergdahl's deteriorating health was a factor in the rapidity with which they exchanged senior Taliban officials for him, though the law required advanced consultation with the U.S. Congress.

"It's safe to assume" that he was "held in harsh conditions. These are Taliban, not wet nurses," said a Defense Department official.

Bergdahl is often irked when referred to as "sergeant" – he was automatically promoted twice while a prisoner. "He says, 'Don't call me that,'" an American official said. "'I didn't go before the boards. I didn't earn it.' "

Bergdahl is unaware of the news coverage and the attendant controversy surrounding his exchange for five senior Taliban figures.

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