Taliban release last remaining U.S. prisoner in prisoner swap

Mark Frerichs, a U.S. Navy veteran and engineer, was kidnapped by the Taliban in 2020 from the Kabul work site where he was working as a contractor.

Taliban release last remaining U.S. prisoner in prisoner swap
AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi
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The Taliban freed the last remaining U.S. prisoner in Afghanistan on Monday, in a prisoner swap with the U.S. government. 

Mark Frerichs, a U.S. Navy veteran and engineer, was kidnapped by the Taliban in 2020 from the Kabul work site where he was working as a contractor. He was traded for the release of Bashir Noorzai, a Taliban militant convicted in 2008 of running a heroin smuggling operation.

President Joe Biden commuted Noorzai’s sentence, allowing the prisoner exchange to take place at the airport in Kabul. 

"Today, we have secured the release of Mark Frerichs, and he will soon be home.  Mark was taken in Afghanistan in January, 2020 and held for 31 months," Biden stated on Monday. "His release is the culmination of years of tireless work by dedicated public servants across our government and other partner governments, and I want to thank them for all that effort."

"My Administration continues to prioritize the safe return of all Americans who are held hostage or wrongfully detained abroad, and we will not stop until they are reunited with their families," the president added. "We have much more work to do in many other cases, but Mark’s release demonstrates our enduring commitment.  Like our work to free Americans held in Burma, Haiti, Russia, Venezuela, and elsewhere, it is our duty to do all we can to bring our people home."

Frerich’s release comes amid ongoing negotiations between the United States government and the Taliban over the negotiated return of billions of dollars in frozen assets to Afghanistan’s new Taliban-run government. The funds belonged to the previous U.S.-backed regime, Fox News reported. 

The Taliban took over Afghanistan amid Biden’s disastrous withdrawal of U.S. military forces after almost two decades of occupation following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. 

The Biden administration and the United Nations are working to release the funds to the Taliban to stabilise the country’s economy, which collapsed following the withdrawal and Western sanctions. 

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  • By Ezra Levant

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