Former prisoner of war Bergdahl arrives back in US, to continue treatment: Pentagon

WASHINGTON (AFP) - The American soldier released in a controversial swop with Afghan insurgents has arrived at an Army medical centre in Texas, the United States, where he will receive further treatment, the Pentagon said on Friday.

Rear-Admiral John Kirby, a Pentagon spokesman, said Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl left Ramstein Air Base in Germany aboard a military plane on Thursday afternoon and arrived early on Friday in San Antonio, where he will be cared for at the Brooke Army Medical Centre. "While there, he will continue the next phase of his reintegration process. There is no timeline for this process. Our focus remains on his health and well-being," Rear-Adm Kirby said.

Rear-Adm Kirby said Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel had expressed confidence the Army will continue to ensure Sgt Bergdahl "receives the care, time and space he needs to complete his recovery and reintegration".

The hospital facility, formally known as the San Antonio Military Medical Centre and located at Fort Sam Houston, has teams of specialists and has been helping returning prisoners of war for decades. The Pentagon said that in Texas the soldier will "continue the next phase of his reintegration process. There is no timeline for this process".

The US Army sergeant had been recuperating at the Landstuhl Regional Medical Centre in Germany.

Sgt Bergdahl was handed over to US forces in Afghanistan on May 31 in exchange for five Taleban leaders held at Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba. His initial release sparked a wave of support that was quickly replaced by political uproar over the release of the senior Taleban members.

Lawmakers criticized the Obama administration for failing to give them 30 days' notice before transferring prisoners from Guantanamo as required by law. Some charged that the administration had essentially violated its policy against negotiating with terrorists by doing the deal.

Some of Sgt Bergdahl's former comrades in Afghanistan also voiced anger, alleging that he had deserted when he walked away from his outpost in circumstances that are unclear and was later captured.

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