The Taliban released two Americans detained in Afghanistan on Tuesday, in an agreement that the State Department has described as a “goodwill gesture” by Washington’s old adversary.
State Department spokesman Ned Price has confirmed the release of the prisoners, refusing to identify them due to confidentiality rules. Price stressed that the release was not through an exchange of prisoners or other individuals of interest to the Kabul regime. There was also no delivery of money for purchase his freedom, he added.
The two US citizens arrived in Qatar on Tuesday before meeting with their families, two State Department officials said on condition of anonymity because the matter was sensitive. “We are providing these two American citizens with all the appropriate assistance,” Price added.
The spokesman confirmed the news, advanced by the newspaper The Washington Post, during his daily appearance before the press. Washington, according to the senior official, will continue to apply adequate pressure to convince the Taliban to hand over every last American detained in Afghanistan, but he declined to detail how many there are and what their circumstances are.
Sources close to the deal told CNN that one of those released is filmmaker Ivor Shearer, who was arrested along with his Afghan producer in August while filming in Kabul. The Taliban also freed US engineer Mark Frerichs, kidnapped two years ago in Afghanistan, in a trade for a senior Taliban official in September.
The release comes on the same day that the Taliban prohibited women’s access to universities, which generated strong condemnation from the United States, which warned that this decision will have consequences for bearded men. Washington has repeatedly condemned the violation of the rights of women and girls by the Taliban since they returned to power in Afghanistan in August 2021 and accelerated the departure of US troops from the Central Asian country. A retreat that became a rout and cost President Joe Biden criticism and popularity, on the eve of the 20th anniversary of 9/11, the trigger for the call war on terror that led the US into Afghanistan.
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With the repatriation of the majority of nationals, Washington promised not to abandon those who, due to different vital circumstances -cooperators, contractors or members of mixed marriages- chose to stay behind. The collapse of Kabul, a Western-backed government for two decades, was also a blow to the CIA’s reputation for failing to anticipate the imminent collapse of the regime it helped support.
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