Taliban releases US soldier in Afghanistan prisoner swap

The Taliban agreed to turn over Sgt Bowe Bergdahl in exchange for the release of five Afghan detainees from the US prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
US Sgt Bowe Bergdahl, left, who had been held captive by the Taliban since 2009, has been released in a prisoner swap. AFP
US Sgt Bowe Bergdahl, left, who had been held captive by the Taliban since 2009, has been released in a prisoner swap. AFP

WASHINGTON // The only American solider held prisoner in Afghanistan has been freed after nearly five years of captivity, US officials said on Saturday.

The officials said the Taliban agreed to turn over Sgt Bowe Bergdahl in exchange for the release of five Afghan detainees from the US prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The transfers happened after a week of intense negotiations mediated by the government of Qatar, which will take custody of the Afghans.

In a statement, president Barack Obama said Bergdahl’s recovery “is a reminder of America’s unwavering commitment to leave no man or woman in uniform behind on the battlefield”.

Officials said the Taliban turned the 28-year-old Bergdahl over on Saturday evening, local time, in Afghanistan. Several dozen US special forces were involved in the exchange, which took place in eastern Afghanistan, near the Pakistani border.

Sgt Bergdahl was in good condition and able to walk, according to the officials, who insisted on anonymity in order to describe the details of his release. Bergdahl is expected to be transferred to Bagram Air Field, the main US base in Afghanistan, then on to the United States.

Bergdahl, of Hailey, Idaho, had been held by the Taliban since June 30, 2009.

* Associated Press

Published: May 31, 2014 04:00 AM

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