Justice Department Fights Legal Effort to Withhold Bergdahl ‘Serial’ Interviews

Bowe Bergdahl / AP


The Justice Department submitted a court filing late Friday pressing a federal judge to rule against a filmmaker who is attempting to block military prosecutors from compelling him to handover unaired interviews with Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl.

Filmmaker Mark Boal interviewed Bergdahl, who is facing a court-martial on charges he deserted a U.S. base in Afghanistan, for 25 hours and allowed portions to be aired on the podcast "Serial."

Boal attempted to preempt a military subpoena for the unaired recordings last month, filing a lawsuit in a Los Angeles-based civilian federal court, Politico reported Monday.

The Justice Department argued in a filing submitted late Friday that a civilian court does not have the authority to intervene in proceedings before a military court-martial. Justice Department lawyers Julia Berman and Marsha Yasuda called Boal’s request "unprecedented."

"Plaintiffs ask this court to intercede in the process of an independent, coordinate court–a military court-martial–and to enjoin that court from issuing or enforcing a subpoena even before that court has had the opportunity to consider plaintiffs’ objections to such process in the first instance," Berman and Yasuda wrote.

"Defendants are not aware of a court that has so intruded into court-martial proceedings before, and plaintiffs identify no reason why this court should be the first to do so now," they added.

Bergdahl, who was released during a prisoner swap last summer after spending five years as a Taliban prisoner in Afghanistan, faces charges of desertion and "misbehavior before the enemy" after walking off his combat post.

His trial is set to begin in February at Fort Bragg in North Carolina. He faces a life sentence if convicted.

Maj. Justin Oshana submitted a statement supporting the Justice Department’s filing Friday, arguing the "relevance" of the unaired interviews to the military prosecutor’s case.

"While preparing for the court-martial, I determined that unaired audio recordings of interviews between Mr. Boal and Sergeant Bergdahl contained information relevant and necessary to prosecution of Sergeant Bergdahl’s court-martial," Oshana wrote.

Natalie Johnson

Natalie Johnson   Email Natalie | Full Bio | RSS
Natalie Johnson is a staff writer at the Washington Free Beacon. Prior to joining the Free Beacon, she was a news reporter at the Daily Signal. Johnson’s work has been featured in outlets such as Newsweek, Fox News and Drudge Report. She graduated from James Madison University in 2015 with a B.A. in political science and journalism. She can be reached at johnson@freebeacon.com. Her twitter handle is @nataliejohnsonn.

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