Mark Frerichs, an American held captive in Afghanistan for greater than two years, has been launched in a prisoner swap, a senior Biden administration official confirmed Monday.
“Bringing Mark dwelling has been a high precedence for President Biden and his nationwide safety crew,” the official stated.
Haji Bashir Noorzai, a distinguished member of the Taliban, who was in jail within the US on drug trafficking fees for 17 years, was granted clemency as a part of the deal, the official stated.
Frerichs, a Navy veteran from Illinois, was kidnapped in late January 2020 whereas he was doing development contract work in Afghanistan. He was believed to be held by the Haqqani community, which is a faction of the Taliban. He was lacking for lower than a month earlier than the US signed a peace take care of the Taliban.
Frerichs was in a position to stroll on his personal onto the plane, a supply accustomed to the matter stated, and his bodily and psychological situation seem good. He’s at present in Doha, Qatar.
Frerichs’ household praised Biden for securing his launch, together with his sister, Charlene Cakora, saying in a press release, “there have been some of us arguing towards the deal that introduced Mark dwelling, however President Biden did what was proper. He saved the lifetime of an harmless American veteran.”
“I’m so completely satisfied to listen to that my brother is secure and on his approach dwelling to us. Our household has prayed for this every day of the greater than 31 months he has been a hostage,” Cakora stated. “We by no means gave up hope that he would survive and are available dwelling safely to us.”
Earlier this yr, The New Yorker revealed a video of Frerichs pleading for his launch – the primary time the Illinois native had been seen in years.
“I’ve been patiently ready my launch,” Frerichs says within the temporary video, which he says is being recorded on November 28, 2021.
Since her brother’s kidnapping, Cakora has referred to as on the US authorities to do extra to safe his launch, escalating these calls within the lead-up to the US withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2021.
Earlier this yr, the Biden administration secured the discharge of Afghan-American Naval reservist Safi Rauf and his brother Anees Khalil, a US inexperienced card holder, who had been detained by the Taliban since December.
The Biden administration undertook months of negotiations with the Taliban to safe Frerichs’ freedom, a senior administration official stated Monday, and the President determined in June to grant clemency to Noorzai if it will result in the captive American’s launch.
Talking on a name with reporters, the official stated it grew to become clear that releasing Noorzai was “the important thing to securing Mark’s overdue freedom,” however the choice on clemency for the Afghan drug trafficker was a “tough” one.
The administration doesn’t see an equivalency between Noorzai, who was finishing up a 17-year sentence within the US, and Frerichs. Noorzai was not held at Guantanamo Bay, regardless of experiences saying he was, the official stated.
“We consulted with specialists throughout the US authorities, who assessed that Noorzai’s (launch) to Afghanistan wouldn’t materially change any danger to People emanating from the nation or the character of the drug commerce there,” the official stated.
Weeks after Biden made the choice on Noorzai, the President approved the strike that killed al Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri in Kabul.
“As we additionally stated publicly on the time, we instructed the Taliban instantly after the strike, that we’d maintain them straight accountable if any hurt had been to return to Mark, and that the easiest way they could start to rebuild belief with the USA, with the world, was to right away launch Mark,” the official stated.
The official stated the window of alternative for the swap lastly introduced itself this month, and the administration “acted in a short time.” However they’d not say the place Frerichs had been held throughout his greater than two years of captivity, nor would they are saying if the US had given the Taliban anything for Frerichs’ launch.
A second senior administration official stated the US would proceed to clarify to the Taliban that they need to finish hostage taking if they’re to realize recognition by the worldwide neighborhood.
The primary official wouldn’t say if the Taliban is holding some other People dwelling. They stated they had been conscious of the matter of American filmmaker Ivor Shearer and his producer, who the Committee to Protect Journalists stated had been detained by the Taliban in August, however didn’t present additional particulars.
This story has been up to date with extra particulars.