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Thursday, October 6, 2022

Taliban free American engineer Mark Frerichs in prisoner swap | US information

The Taliban have freed an American engineer in trade for an Afghan tribal chief linked to the group whom the US had held on medicine expenses since 2005.

Mark Frerichs was exchanged at Kabul airport for Bashir Noorzai, the performing Taliban overseas minister, Amir Khan Muttaqi, informed a information convention within the Afghan capital.

Noorzai was detained by the US on suspicion of smuggling greater than $50m-worth of heroin into the US and Europe.

“The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan is able to remedy issues by negotiation with all together with the US,” Muttaqi mentioned, referring to the Taliban.

Frerichs is an engineer and US navy veteran from Lombard, Illinois, who labored in Afghanistan for a decade on growth tasks. He was kidnapped in February 2020.

Bashir Noorzai
Bashir Noorzai was detained on suspicion of smuggling greater than $50m-worth of heroin into the US and Europe. {Photograph}: AP

The US has no official illustration in Afghanistan. A senior Biden administration official confirmed the trade, saying Biden granted clemency to Noorzai after he spent 17 years in US authorities custody.

Washington has been pushing for the discharge of Frerichs, together with after the Taliban took over Afghanistan in August 2021, as US-led overseas forces have been withdrawing.

American officers have mentioned his case would affect their view on the legitimacy of a Taliban-led authorities. No overseas authorities has formally recognised the Taliban, partially due to the group’s restriction of most ladies from schooling.

Noorzai briefly addressed the information convention at a Kabul resort, alongside Muttaqi and the Taliban’s performing deputy prime ministers. “I’m proud to be within the capital of my nation amongst 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 fees ought to be dismissed as a result of US authorities officers tricked him into believing he wouldn’t be arrested.

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