A prominent Taliban member, Haji Bashir Noorzai, has been released after decades of imprisonment in Guantanamo and arrived in Kabul on Monday, according to a tweet from the Taliban Doha-based spokesman.
Amir Khan Muttaqi, the Taliban’s acting foreign minister, later revealed to reporters during a press conference in Kabul on Monday that the group had released American engineer Mark Frerichs in return for the US releasing Haji Bashir.
Noorzai was reportedly jailed by the US on charges of trafficking heroin into the US and Europe worth more than $50 million.
Engineer Frerichs, a veteran of the US Navy from Illinois, US, spent ten years working on development projects in Afghanistan. His kidnapping happened in February 2020.
No official representative of the US government is present in Afghanistan, and US government representatives abroad were not promptly available for comment.
Asadullah Haroon, one of the remaining Taliban prisoners in Guantanamo, was freed on the 24th of June after 15 years in captivity after talks with the US government.
The infamous Guantanamo jail once housed hundreds of suspected militants. During the War on Terrorism, these Taliban suspects were arrested by US soldiers and incarcerated at Guantanamo.
The newly released Haji Bashir, at the press conference alongside the Taliban Minister of Foreign Affairs, told the media “I am proud to be in the capital of my country among my brothers.”