US national Mark Frerichs released in Taliban prisoner exchange
© WikiMedia (Olgamielnikiewicz)
US national Mark Frerichs released in Taliban prisoner exchange

The Taliban Monday released American Mark Frerichs after more than two years in captivity. US President Joe Biden negotiated a prisoner swap and exchanged Bashir Noorzai, an associate of the Taliban, for Frerichs. In a statement, Biden explained “[b]ringing the negotiations that led to Mark’s freedom to a successful resolution required difficult decisions, which I did not take lightly.”

Frerichs was kidnapped in January 2020 while working as a contractor in Afghanistan. Frerichs, a Navy veteran, spent over a decade in Afghanistan working on various aid projects. In April, The New Yorker published a video in which Frerichs pleads for his release. In the video, apparently filmed on November 28, 2021, Frerichs pleads, “I’ve been patiently waiting my release. I’d like to ask the leadership of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, please, release me. Release me so that I may be reunited with my family.”

US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said he has “no higher priority than the safety and security of Americans around the world.” Blinken promised that his department “will remain tireless in [its] efforts to seek the release of Americans held hostage or wrongfully detained.”