A statement from the White House confirmed the swap release of the US navy veteran, Mark Frerichs, who was held hostage by the Taliban, and the Taliban member, Bashar Noorzai, who spent almost 17 years in a US jail for heroin smuggling.
US President Biden was quoted by the White House in a statement on Monday, September 19, stating that Frerichs had been taken hostage in Afghanistan for 31 months after being abducted in January 2020.
According to the White House statement, the Taliban hostage was released as a result of the “years of tireless work” of the US public servants and other partner governments, and he is returning home.
The US president also stated that during the talks that led to Frerichs release, “difficult decisions” had to be made and that Washington now prioritizes securing his safe return to the country.
“Bringing the negotiations that led to Mark’s freedom to a successful resolution required difficult decisions, which I did not take lightly,” the White House statement said.
In a statement, Antony Blinken, the US Secretary of State, stated that the former US Navy serviceman was safe and traveling from Afghanistan to the US.
The American official also expressed gratitude to the US partners in Qatar for their efforts in securing Frerichs’s release and said it was the culmination of “intense engagement” with the Taliban.
The prisoner who was exchanged, Noorzai, was imprisoned in the US for smuggling heroin. Upon his release, the Taliban held a welcome ceremony for him in Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan.