By Kyle Balluck - 06/08/14 07:18 AM EDT
Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl told the medical team treating him in Germany that his Taliban captors locked him in a metal cage for trying to escape, according to reports published Sunday.
Bergdahl said he was tortured, beaten and held in a cage after he tried to escape from the Taliban, a senior U.S. official told The Associated Press.
Meanwhile, The New York Times quoted American officials briefed on Bergdahl’s condition that he said he was locked in a metal cage in total darkness for weeks at a time.
Military doctors say Bergdahl is physically able to travel but not yet emotionally ready to reunite with his family, the official added.
The deal to release Bergdahl, the last American prisoner of war in Afghanistan, stung administration officials, who were caught off guard by the negative reaction.
Bergdahl is accused of walking away from his unit shortly before being abducted by the Taliban.
Political observers say the White House miscalculations were highlighted by the decision to have President Obama appear alongside Bergdahl’s parents in an address at the White House Rose Garden.
“They put too positive a spin on what is a very ambiguous set of circumstances,” Southern Methodist University professor Cal Jillson told The Hill.
“A big part of the WH stew on this is typical photo op hubris,” Boston University political strategist Tobe Berkovitz said. “Instead of just bringing Bergdahl back, they had to do the full kissy-huggy announcement with mom and dad figuring this good news would push the VA mess off the front page.”
Despite the blowback, the administration remains confident that the deal to release Bergdahl will eventually be seen as good policy and the right thing to do.
— Justin Sink contributed to this report.