Facebook Twitter

American veteran released from Taliban in prisoner swap

SHARE American veteran released from Taliban in prisoner swap
Mark Frerichs, the U.S. veteran who was captured by the Taliban and was recently freed in a prisoner swap.

An undated photo of Mark Frerichs, the U.S. veteran who was captured by the Taliban and was recently freed in a prisoner swap.

Charlene Cakora, Associated Press

The Biden administration has negotiated the release of an American man held hostage by the Taliban.

Who is Mark Frerichs?

Mark Frerichs, a Navy veteran, was living in Afghanistan as a civilian contractor when he was abducted in January 2020, according to The Associated Press.

Frerichs was released in exchange for an Afghan tribal leader, Bashir Noorzai, who was imprisoned by the U.S. for drug smuggling. The tribal leader had ties to the Taliban and had been held by the U.S since 2005, according to Reuters.

“Bringing the negotiations that led to Mark’s freedom to a successful resolution required difficult decisions, which I did not take lightly,” President Joe Biden said in a statement on the deal, according to CBS News.

“Our priority now is to make sure Mark receives a healthy and safe return and is given the space and time he needs to transition back into society,” Biden said.

While there have been no allegations that Noorzai killed Americans, federal prosecutors did find that his drug smuggling network has caused a lot of damage. Noorzai has large power over a major part of the world’s heroin trade, according to NBC News.

This negotiation is one of the major prisoner swaps in the Biden administration to date. AP reported that this deal came after a separate deal was made with Russia to release Trevor Reed, a Marine veteran, earlier this year. Despite these deals, many people are hoping that the Biden administration will continue to bring Americans home.

Ridge Alkonis case

The Deseret News reported that the family of U.S. Navy lieutenant Ridge Alkonis is still working to bring him home while he serves a three-year prison sentence in Japan.

“Lt. Ridge Alkonis is a hero. Someone who’s served his country well. ... He’s one of the best and the brightest. And we need him. We need him, and (his wife) Brittany and their children need him back in the United States,” Sen. Mike Lee said during a recent rally.

Lee further encouraged Biden to meet with the Alkonis family, listen to their story and be motivated to action.

“As a military father, I’m confident when (Biden) meets Brittany Alkonis, all she needs is 10 minutes, when he meets her, when he hears his story, this story will touch him deeply and motivate him to action,” Lee said.