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Bergdahl may have tried to escape Taliban, US official says

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Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl sits in a Taliban vehicle just prior to his release to American troops. (Source: CNN) Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl sits in a Taliban vehicle just prior to his release to American troops. (Source: CNN)
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WASHINGTON, DC (CNN) - Stunning new details are surfacing on the deal that freed army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl.

A senate aide says the United States was warned that if word of the deal leaked out, Bergdahl would be executed by the Taliban.

While many senators were shocked by a proof-of-life video from Bergdahl's captivity, critics still say the price was too high.

But President Barack Obama says the prisoner swap controversy was whipped up in Washington and he's making no apologies for trading five Taliban detainees for Bergdahl.

Bergdahl may have tried to escape his Taliban captors on at least two occasions, a U.S. official has said.

But until the army can talk to Bergdahl directly, the U.S. won't know for sure.

However, a U.S. official says, "we do have reason to believe there were times he tried to escape."

Bergdahl may not yet have talked fully about his five years in Taliban captivity, but he is recovering after nearly a week under U.S. military medical care.

The pentagon said he is now speaking in English to the medical staff treating him, participating more in his recovery treatment and is resting better.

The administration continues to insist Bergdahl's health and safety were at risk. And to make that point showed senators a classified video of Bergdahl from December of 2013.

"He looked terrible. And I think that video should be released at some point. He could barely talk. He couldn't focus his eyes. He was downcast. He was thin. He looked like a man - I looked around the room, as that video was shown, and I think it was clearly effective you know when the video stopped. It wasn't very long, maybe 30 seconds, there was a dead silence in the room," said U.S. Sen. Angus King, I-ME.

An Afghan security official who was on duty near where Bergdahl was captured in 2009 said that when local villagers spotted Bergdahl after he'd left his base they tried to get him to leave the village, telling him the area was dangerous.

The official said Bergdahl appeared to be under the influence of hallucinogenic substances.

Several U.S. officials could not independently confirm those accounts.

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