Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl said he fantasized about becoming a hit man for the Russian mob the night before he left his post in Afghanistan, according to a sworn statement from an Army friend.
“I was a good friend of Bergdahl and spent of a good deal of time with him, leading up to his disaperance [sic] our conversations became focused on his fantasy of being in the Russian mob as a Hitman or Assassin,” Staff Sgt. Shane Cross told Army investigators in an affidavit.
The excerpted statement is part of four witness statements revealed Tuesday by Army lawyers in Bergdahl’s case as part of an effort by prosecutors to introduce evidence they say will illustrate his motive for leaving his post.
The filing was first reported by the San Antonio Express-News.
Bergdahl is set to face a court-martial in February on charges of desertion and misbehavior before the enemy. The latter charge carries the potential for a life sentence in prison.
Bergdahl walked off his post in Afghanistan in June 2009 and was captured by the Taliban. He was held until a May 2014 prisoner swap.
Prosecutors are hoping to use the statements about his past behavior to establish he was an adventure seeker, according to the motion.
Specifically, prosecutors want to highlight Bergdahl’s attempt to join the French Foreign Legion, his participation in a fishing boat trip from New York to Seattle, his participation in an Alaskan fishing boat trip and his time on a weapons range.
“When viewed in context with the accused statement’s about his desire for adventure and boredom with the mission, the evidence of prior acts support that the accused’s behavior was intentional,” prosecutors wrote in the motion.
In a response to the motion, Bergdahl’s attorneys rejected that argument, saying the statements are irrelevant.
“Allowing these matters into evidence will waste time, confuse the issues, mislead the trier of fact and unfairly prejudice SGT Bergdahl,” they wrote.
Bergdahl has said he walked off his post to trigger an alert so he could get the attention of his superiors to recommend leadership reforms.
He has also said he wanted to be like fictional action hero Jason Bourne.
“Like, doing what I did was me saying, ‘I am, like, I don’t know, Jason Bourne,’ ” Bergdahl said in interviews aired on the “Serial” podcast.
Cross said in his statement that Bergdahl laid out how he could become a hit man the night before disappearing.
“He mentioned his plan would be to go through Pakistan and into India and join the Russian mob,” Cross said. “He also mentioned that he wouldnt [sic] want any tattoos, because they would be identifiable marks on his body.”
During that same conversation, Bergdahl also talked about learning to speak Russian during a fishing boat trip to Europe, Cross said.
“As far as Bergdahl saying that he knows how to speak Russian, I don’t know if it’s true,” Cross added, “and the conversations about the Mob were something I didn’t take seriously.”