Taliban sympathizer posts pictures of smiling Bowe Bergdahl

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Taliban sympathizer posts pictures of smiling Bowe Bergdahl
SAN ANTONIO, TX - JUNE 13: (From left) Colonel Bradley Poppen, Ph.D., Major General Joseph P. DiSalvo, and Colonel Ronald N. Wool deliver a press conference at the Fort Sam Houston Golf Course July 13, 2014 in San Antonio, Texas. They are reporting on Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, his return to the United States, and reintegration at Brooke Army Medical Center after being a prison of war under Taliban captivity. (Photo by Drew Anthony Smith/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 31: President Barack Obama walks with the parents of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, Jani Bergdahl (L) and Bob Bergdahl (R) back to the Oval Office after making a statement regarding the release of Sgt. Bergdahl from captivity May 31, 2014 in the Rose Garden at the White House in Washington, DC. Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl was held captive by militants for almost five years during the war in Afghanistan. (Photo by J.H. Owen-Pool/Getty Images)
Bob Bergdahl, the father of freed US soldier Bowe Bergdahl, speaks following the release of his son, US soldier Bowe Bergdahl, in the Rose Garden of the White House on May 31, 2014 in Washington, DC. US President Barack Obama and the Bergdahl's spoke after the release of Bowe Bergdahl by the Taliban in Afghanistan.  MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images
Supporters of freed prisoner of war US Army soldier Bowe Bergdahl including representatives of the ANSWER Coalition, CODEPINK and March Forward, rally in front of the White House in Washington, DC, June 10, 2014, to welcome Bergdahl home after 5-years of being held by the Taliban in Afghanistan. AFP PHOTO / Saul LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 11: U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel testifies before the House Armed Services Committee about the about the prisoner exchange that freed Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl in the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill June 11, 2014 in Washington, DC. The trade of Bergdahl for five senior Taliban officials has angered some members of Congress because they were not informed of the swap beforehand. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 11: U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel listens during a hearing before the House Armed Services Committee June 11, 2014 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. The committee held the hearing to examine the exchange of five Taliban prisoners from Guantanamo Bay for the release of U.S. Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl who had been held for almost five years by the insurgents in Afghanistan. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
HAILEY, ID - JUNE 01: A sign announcing the release of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl sits in the window of the Hailey Paint and Supply store on Main Street June 1, 2014 in Hailey, Idaho. Sgt. Bergdahl was captured in Afghanistan in 2009 while serving with U.S. Armys 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment in Paktika Province. Yesterday he was released after a swap for 5 prisoners being held at Guantanamo Bay was arranged. Bergdahl was considered the only U.S. prisoner of war held in Afghanistan. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
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BY KATHARINE HOURELD

(Reuters) - U.S. soldier Bowe Bergdahl, who was held captive by the Taliban for five years, appeared smiling alongside a commander from the militant Haqqani network in a photo posted on a Twitter account by a supporter of the Afghan Taliban.

On Friday, the Taliban confirmed the photo had been taken with them while Bergdahl was in captivity.

"You would have noticed in the photo with Badruddin Haqqani, Bergdahl is looking physically very weak as it was the beginning when he was kidnapped by our lions," said a Taliban commander, who asked not to be named.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said the account that posted the photo was operated by a Taliban sympathizer who works in a university in Afghanistan.

"Its not our official Twitter but is operated by someone who seemed to be our supporter and sympathizer. We know he is teaching in a university in Afghanistan and is often using our photos on his Twitter," Mujahid said by telephone.

The account posted the photo late on Wednesday along with others of Bergdahl, as well as gruesome images of a decapitation. It said Bergdahl had been treated with kindness in captivity.

"Bowe #Bergdahl was really impressed when he saw the hospitality of #Taliban He first thought that he will be tortured But he was wrong," the Twitter post said. "He was not shackled in Chains neither was he Tortured, Rather He was Free."

Another photo of him with a Taliban commander showed him looking haggard and worried. The account also said Bergdahl had attempted to escape when the Taliban took him to a market but had been recaptured.

Bergdahl was captured on June 30, 2009, in unclear circumstances. He was released on May 31 in a prisoner swap that freed five Taliban leaders held at Guantanamo prison in Cuba.

He has not spoken to the media since his release and the Twitter account's description of his time in captivity and the circumstances of the photographs could not be confirmed.

The Twitter account identified the man in the first photo with Bergdahl as Badruddin Haqqani, head of operations and financial chief for the Haqqani network. The group is blamed for some of the deadliest and most spectacular attacks on NATO and Afghan troops in Afghanistan.

The picture with Haqqani is tagged with the words "Jundul Haqqani", or Haqqani group.

A drone strike killed Badruddin Haqqani in northwestern Pakistan in 2012.

Bergdahl's release sparked an initial wave of euphoria in the United States that quickly became overwhelmed by a bitter political debate over whether he had abandoned his post and whether the prisoner swap should have gone ahead.

Some of his former colleagues have called for him to be court-martialed for allegedly deserting his post.

U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said the army was investigating the circumstances of Bergdahl's disappearance. He was the only U.S. soldier to be captured and held hostage during the war in Afghanistan.

Bergdahl was initially flown to a U.S. hospital in Germany. He arrived back on U.S. soil last month and has been housed at a military hospital in San Antonio, Texas, to help him readjust.

The hospital, formally known as the San Antonio Military Medical Center, has teams of specialists and has been helping returning prisoners of war for decades.

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