The U.S. military officer who headed a hearing in the case of accused deserter Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl recommended that the man held captive by the Taliban in Afghanistan should not be sent to a military prison, Bergdahl's lawyers said.
Lieutenant Colonel Mark Visger, the presiding officer at the so-called Article 32 hearing last month in San Antonio, also made recommendations in a memorandum this week for Bergdahl's case to be moved to the military equivalent of misdemeanor court, the lawyers said.
Military officials were not immediately available for comment.
U.S. military prosecutors told the two-day hearing in September that Bergdahl had intended to desert his post. They said his actions fundamentally altered American operations in Afghanistan and called for him to be held accountable.
Bergdahl, 29, was charged earlier this year with desertion and misbehavior before the enemy. He faces up to life in prison if convicted of the more serious offense of misbehavior.
Lawyers for Bergdahl would like Visger to recommend a punishment under Article 15, they said. Visger's recommendations have not been publicly released.
Under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, Article 15 punishments include reduction of one grade in rank or a requirement that the soldier perform additional duties.
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U.S. Army hearing officer recommends no jail for 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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Visger will recommend the course of action for resolving Bergdahl's case, such as whether it should proceed to a court-martial or be handled in some other manner. The final decision will be made by the Commanding General of the U.S. Army Forces Command at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
Major General Kenneth Dahl, who led the military's investigation into Bergdahl's disappearance and capture, told last month's hearing Bergdahl should not be imprisoned, saying he was not a Taliban sympathizer.
Dahl characterized Bergdahl as an unrealistically idealistic soldier who left his post to report concerns about his unit's leadership to a general at another base. He added that none of the soldiers sent to look for Bergdahl had been killed.
Bergdahl disappeared on June 30, 2009, from Combat Outpost Mest-Lalak in Paktika Province, Afghanistan, and was captured by the Taliban, where he suffered years of abuse and torture.
He was freed five years later in a prisoner swap that sent five Taliban leaders who were being held at Guantanamo to Qatar.