Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Bergdahl’s father makes plea

Public statement to Taliban breaks 2-year silence


By TONY EVANS
Express Staff Writer

Robert Bergdahl

After nearly two years of silence following the capture of U.S. Army soldier Pfc. Bowe Bergdahl, the missing soldier's father posted a video on the Internet last Friday, humbly asking for his son's release.

The three-minute video, posted on Youtube, addresses Pakistani military and Taliban leaders who may have the power to set Bowe Bergdahl free.

"Strangely to some, we must also thank those who have cared for our son for almost two years ... and others who have played a role in sheltering the American prisoner," Robert Bergdahl says in the video. "We know our son is a prisoner and at the same time a guest in your home."

Robert Bergdhal expressed empathy for Iraqis who have suffered from the war on the front lines and survived natural disasters, including an earthquake and floods. At times he speaks in Pashtun, a tribal language used in northern Afghanistan and Pakistan.

"This was a "heartfelt plea from the Bergdahls," said Col. Tim Marsano, who has served as official public liaison with the Bergdahl family since their son was captured in the Paktika province of Afghanistan on June 30, 2009.

Since that time five, videos have been posted on the Internet by Bowe Bergdhal's captors. Military officials have repeatedly condemned the use of the soldier's image in videos as "propaganda."

Marsano said the U.S. military has not yet responded publicly to Robert Bergdahl's attempt to communicate directly with his son's captors.

"The last two years have been extremely challenging for them," said Marsano.

"Although they know that everything that can be done by the U.S. government and the military has been done to secure his release, their son still isn't home. At this point, they are looking at new avenues to secure his safe release.

"We are all very hopeful that it (the video) will be taken as it was meant, as a father's personal plea for the safety of his son," said Marsano.

Bowe Bergdahl is a Hailey-area native. His parents, Robert and Jani Bergdahl, live in Blaine County west of Hailey.

The Youtube video can be seen at www.youtube.com/watch?v=yJmmZQ3byKQ.

Tony Evans: tevans@mtexpress.com




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