US Army Sergeant Bowe Berghdal is seen in this handout image. Picture: US Army, via Reuters

London - US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel said the US government had had to act immediately to secure the release of Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl from Taliban captivity because a delay might have jeopardised the chances of securing his freedom.

Bergdahl was handed over to US special operations forces in Afghanistan on Saturday in exchange for the transfer of five senior Taliban members from Guantanamo prison in Cuba to Qatar.

It provoked criticism from some lawmakers in Congress who were angry that US President Barack Obama's administration had not alerted them in advance, while some of Bergdahl's former comrades have charged that he was captured after deserting.

“It was our judgement based on the information that we had that his life, his health were in peril,” Hagel said in an interview with the BBC aired on Thursday.

“You imagine if we would have waited for, taken the chance of leaks over a thirty day period. I will tell you what I know, and I made a judgement on this too, that that would seriously imperil us ever getting him out.” - Reuters