Bowe Bergdahl: Soldier's father receives death threats as Republican criticism of release grows

Robert Bergdahl is under protection as Republican criticism swells over beard and use of Arabic

Death threats have been sent to the father of Bowe Bergdahl, the US soldier released last week having being held captive by the Taliban for five years, after a number of high-profile Republican politicians attacked the soldier’s father for perceived Muslim sympathies.

Robert Bergdahl began receiving the threats on Thursday, when his son’s hometown cancelled plans for a party to welcome him home amid fears that the small Idaho town would be unable to cope with the expected huge crowds of protestors.

Authorities in Bergdahl's hometown of Haley, Idaho cancelled a planned celebration last week. Source: Getty Images "There were four specific emails with death threats given to the FBI and they are looking into it,” Jeff Gunter, the police chief in Bergdahl’s hometown of Hailey, Idaho, told Reuters.

Authorities are understood to be providing protection to the family.

Bergdahl's father came under attack after joining Barack Obama for a speech about his son's release last week. Source: Getty Images

Critics have publicly attacked Robert Bergdahl over what they say is his suspicious beard and his ‘attempt to claim the White House for Islam’. Republican politicians, who have been looking to politicise the deal, have seized on Bergdahl’s use of Arabic greetings in a speech soon after his son’s release.

Fox News hosts including Bill O’Reilly have also criticised Bergdahl. “[Bergdahl] has learned to speak Pashto, the language of the Taliban, and looks like a Muslim," O’Reilly said on his programme last week.

Robert Bergdahl has said that he learnt Pashto to better understand his son’s captors and that his beard was to mark the time his son was held by the Taliban.

Footage of Bergdahl’s handover was released on Wednesday. He is being cared for in a military hospital in Germany, where he has told medical officials that he was locked in a metal cage in total darkness for weeks at a time, reported the New York Times. Doctors have said that he is physically able to travel but not emotionally ready to reunite with his family, reports said.

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