News ID: 107051
Publish Date : 19 September 2022 - 21:27

KABUL (AFP) – An American navy veteran detained in Afghanistan since 2020 was released by the Taliban on Monday in exchange for an ally who had spent 17 years in a U.S. jail for alleged heroin smuggling, Afghanistan’s foreign minister said.
Mark Frerichs was working as a civil engineer on construction projects in Afghanistan when he was “taken hostage”, Washington previously said.
“After long negotiations, U.S. citizen Mark Frerichs was handed over to an American delegation and that delegation handed over (Bashar Noorzai) to us today at Kabul airport,” Afghan Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi said at a press conference.
“We are happy that at Kabul International Airport, in the capital of Afghanistan, we witnessed the wonderful ceremony of one of our compatriots returning home.”
Noorzai was welcomed with a hero’s fanfare by the government of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA).
Photos show he was greeted by masked Taliban officials bearing floral garlands.
“Honorable Haji Bashir was released after two decades of imprisonment and arrived in Kabul today,” Mohammad Naeem, a Taliban spokesperson based in Doha, said in a Tweet on Monday.
Meanwhile, U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration has reportedly recently stepped up efforts to close Washington’s notorious prison camp at Guantanamo Bay naval base in Cuba.
The Wall Street Journal on Saturday cited sources as saying that Washington, for the first time, was appointing a senior diplomat to oversee detainee transfers from the facility.
The Guantanamo Bay Prison, also known as Gitmo, was established in southern Cuba in January 2002 to hold inmates in a place where neither U.S. nor international law would apply.
Since then, Guantanamo, which at its peak held over 700 inmates, has been synonymous with human rights abuses perpetrated by the U.S. government in the name of the war on terrorism.

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