Portraits of Bergdahl differ greatly - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Portraits of Bergdahl differ greatly

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The exchange of U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl for five Taliban prisoners has sparked controversy. (Source: CNN) The exchange of U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl for five Taliban prisoners has sparked controversy. (Source: CNN)
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(CNN) - The negotiated release of U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl last week has been clouded with controversy.

Bergdahl was set free by the Taliban in a prisoner exchange, and is recovering at a U.S. military hospital in Germany.

Now new details surrounding the conditions of his capture and captivity have come to light.

On Monday, military doctors at Landstuhl say his health is improving.

But in the days since his dramatic release from the Taliban, the pentagon, fellow soldiers and Afghans have presented two vastly contradictory portraits of Bergdahl.

Deserter or good soldier?

The first dispute arises from the circumstances of his disappearance.

A military investigation found he had wandered off base more than once.

Still Afghan witnesses say that the morning he was taken, he was forcibly abducted, beaten as he resisted.

While some of his platoon-mates allege he may have been trying to contact the Taliban.

"I heard it straight from the interpreter's lips as he heard it over the radio, and at that point, it was like, this is kind of snowballing out of control a little bit, there's a lot more to this story than just a soldier walking away," said Evan Buetow, Bergdahl's former team leader.

Were troops killed during the search for him?

In the massive manhunt that ensued after he went missing, fellow soldiers say six troops were killed.

The pentagon says there is no such evidence.

Then there is his behavior during captivity.

Collaborator or survivor?

Military officials say he attempted escape more than once, was held in a cage and physically abused.

A Taliban source says he sometimes played soccer with his captors, was allowed to celebrate Christmas and Easter and even choose his own food, though U.S. officials have not been able to confirm this account.

"You want to humanize yourself so that the guards will start to trust you, so that when they stop watching you so closely you can try to escape," said David Rohde, who was kidnapped by the Taliban.

A friend of the Bergdahl family and former Marine is pleading for time.

"And that's what I'm concerned about, you know, is that all the facts aren't out, and it's rush to condemn him," said Matthew Hoh, a former Marine Corps captain.

There is no immediate plan to transfer Bergdahl back to the U.S.

Doctors say that will be based on the speed of his recovery and reintegration.

He has not spoken to his parents since his release.

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