[JURIST] US President Barack Obama [official website] announced Saturday that prisoner of war Bowe Bergdahl had been released into US custody [text] in exchange for five detainees held at Guantanamo Bay. Bergdahl was the only confirmed US prisoner of war from the conflict in Afghanistan remaining in enemy custody [AP report]. The Obama administration brokered the deal for Bergdahl’s exchange through the Qatari government [Washington Post report]; once Bergdahl was secured, five high-profile Guantanamo Bay detainees, including the former head of the Taliban army, were transferred to Qatar [press release]. Republicans in the US Senate and House of Representatives [official websites] criticized the exchange [Al Jazeera report], which had been conducted in violation of a law requiring the president to notify Congress 30 days before any terrorists are transferred from Guantanamo bay [PDF]. The Obama administration maintains that the provision of the law requiring the notification is an unconstitutional violation on his rights as Commander-in-Chief [signing statement, PDF].
Bergdahl was captured [CNN report] by the Haqqani Network [CNN backgrounder], an insurgent group affiliated with the Taliban, in June 2009. The circumstances surrounding Bergdahl’s capture remain unclear. In July 2009 a video in which Bergdahl says his name and home town [AP report] was posted online and claimed by the Taliban. The Pentagon confirmed Bergdahl’s identity [press release] and changed his status to “missing-captured” the next day. In the four years since Bergdahl’s capture, Bergdahl appeared in six videos [advocacy website] released by the Taliban, the only indication given that Bergdahl was still alive. The final video of Bergdahl, released three years after the last, was received in November 2013 at the request of the US as proof that Bergdahl was still alive [CNN report].