Speed Reads

free at last

American detained in Afghanistan for over 2 years released in prisoner exchange

American Mark Frerichs has been released in a prisoner swap after being held captive in Afghanistan for over two years, a senior Biden administration official confirmed Monday, per CNN.

"Bringing Mark home has been a top priority for President Biden and his national security team," the official told CNN.

Frerichs' release was orchestrated as part of a swap for Haji Bashir Noorzai, a notable member of the Taliban, who served 17 years in a U.S. jail on drug trafficking charges. 

Frerichs, a Navy veteran from Illinois, was kidnapped in January 2020 while working on contracted construction work in Afghanistan. His kidnapping occurred a few weeks before the U.S. signed a peace deal with the Taliban. He was allegedly held by a faction of the Taliban known as the Haqqani network, and is currently in Doha, Qatar. 

The Biden administration spent months negotiating the swap with Taliban representatives. The decision to grant Noorzai clemency was not an easy one, but Biden agreed in June when it became clear it would be necessary to secure Frerichs' release. 

For his part, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken celebrated the successful swap. He said the U.S. would "bring the same determination and focus" used to free Frerichs to help other Americans who have been "arbitrarily and unjustly detained," per CNN.