The Pentagon is under fire for making a ransom payment to an Afghan earlier this year as part of a failed bid to win the release of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, according to U.S. officials.

Sgt. Bergdahl was released in May after nearly five years in captivity as part of a controversial exchange for five terrorists held at the U.S. military detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

The ransom payment was first disclosed by Rep. Duncan Hunter in a Nov. 5 letter to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel. Mr. Hunter stated in the letter that Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) made the payment covertly as part of a release deal. But the money was stolen by the Afghan intermediary claiming to represent the Haqqani terrorist network.

“Given the significance of this matter, as well as the fact that Pentagon officials have denied that a payment was even considered — and you also said you were unaware of any such attempt — I ask you to immediately inquire with JSOC to determine the specific order of events,” said Mr. Hunter, California Republican and member of the House Armed Services Committee.

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