Taliban Posts Video of Bowe Bergdahl's Release

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The Taliban has released a propaganda video they shot featuring the handoff of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl to U.S. forces.

The Associated Press reports that the full video is 17 minutes long altogether, but there are numerous brief clips circulating of Bergdahl being turned back over to the American. Here's a clip showing the moment Bergdahl, escorted by Taliban fighters, is picked up by a Black Hawk helicopter. A member of the Taliban holds a white flag as Bergdahl — who is has a completely shaved head and is wrapped in robes — is walked to the helicopter, and handed over to U.S. soldiers. 

According to the AP, a voiceover on the video notes that the exchange took place at 4 p.m. on Saturday in Afghanistan's eastern Khost province. The AP offers some additional details

As the helicopter approaches, one of the Taliban men gets closer to Bergdahl and is heard speaking in Pashto, one of two main Afghan languages. "Don't come back to Afghanistan," the man tells Bergdahl. "You won't make it out alive next time," he adds as some of the others are heard laughing. The same words appear over the video in English, with misspellings. Just before the helicopter lands, a group of Taliban near the pickup shout: "Long life to Mujahedeen," or holy warriors as the Taliban call themselves.

Pentagon officials are working to verify the video, but say they have no reason to believe it to be fake. The Defense Department's press secretary, Rear Adm. John Kirby, said it doesn't really matter either way: "Regardless, we know the transfer was peaceful and successful, and our focus remains on getting Sgt. Bergdahl the care he needs."

Bergdahl's release has prompted much controversy in the U.S., where some say that the exchange — which released five al-Qaeda operatives from Guantanamo Bay to Qatar — is a threat to national security. Others, including soldiers who served with Bergdahl, say he is a deserter and should face criminal trial. Bergdahl is currently in a U.S. military hospital in Germany. 

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.