Taliban release American engineer Mark Frerichs in prisoner swap
KABUL – Afghanistan’s Taliban freed on Monday American engineer Mark Frerichs in change for an Afghan tribal chief linked to the Taliban who the United States had held on medicine expenses since 2005, the group’s performing international minister mentioned.
Frerichs was exchanged on the airport in the capital, Kabul, with Bashir Noorzai, performing international minister Amir Khan Muttaqi informed a information convention in the town.
Noorzai was detained by the United States on suspicion of smuggling greater than $50 million value of heroin into the United States and Europe.
“The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan is ready to solve problems by negotiation with all including the United States,” Muttaqi mentioned, referring to the Taliban.
Frerichs is an engineer and U.S. Navy veteran from Lombard, Illinois, who labored in Afghanistan for a decade on improvement initiatives. He was kidnapped in February 2020.
The United States has no official illustration in Afghanistan and U.S. authorities officers elsewhere weren’t instantly obtainable for remark.
The United States has been pushing for the release of Frerichs, together with after the Taliban took over Afghanistan in August 2021, as U.S.-led international forces had been withdrawing.
U.S. officers have mentioned his case would affect their view on the legitimacy of a Taliban-led authorities. No international authorities has formally recognised the Taliban, in half because of the group’s restriction of most women from schooling.
Noorzai briefly addressed the information convention at a Kabul resort, alongside Muttaqi and the Taliban’s performing deputy prime ministers.
“I am proud to be in the capital of my country among my brothers,” he mentioned.
The tribal chief had longstanding ties to the Taliban.
Noorzai’s lawyer had denied his consumer was a drug seller and argued the costs must be dismissed as a result of U.S. authorities officers duped him into believing he wouldn’t be arrested.