Earlier today, President Joe Biden stated that the final known American hostage held by the Taliban, Mark Frerichs, was freed in a prisoner swap.
In a statement, Vice President Joe Biden expressed gratitude to the “dedicated public workers throughout our administration and other partner nations” who had worked tirelessly for years to secure the release of the prisoner.
At a news conference held on Monday in Kabul, the Taliban acknowledged the release of Frerichs, originally from Lombard, Illinois, in exchange for senior Taliban captive and infamous drug lord Bashir Noorzai. The administration has said that Noorzai was not incarcerated at Guantanamo Bay but rather in a federal jail in the United States.
Without going into detail, Biden said, “Bringing the discussions that led to Mark’s liberation to a successful end involved tough choices, which I did not take lightly.”
According to family members and authorities, the 60-year-old U.S. Navy veteran and contractor was taken in Kabul, Afghanistan in January 2020 after being enticed to what he believed was a new business meeting but turned out to be a tragic ploy. For the last 31 months, he has been incarcerated in an Afghan prison.
Today, I had the opportunity to call Mark’s sister and tell her the wonderful news and convey my joy for Mark and his family.
Sister Charlene Cakora has been begging Biden for years to help secure Frerichs’ release.
She gave an exclusive interview to ABC in June 2021, after the United States military had completely withdrawn from Afghanistan, leaving Frerichs as the lone survivor.
Cakora claimed on Monday that her brother Mark was living again because “President Biden took action,” despite “certain persons screaming against the arrangement that brought Mark home.” She also gave appreciation to Illinois Senators Tammy Duckworth and Dick Durbin for his safe return.
Reps. Duckworth and Durbin have not commented on their constituent’s release as of yet.
For their help in getting Mark released, we owe a debt of gratitude to President Biden, Secretary Blinken, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, and Senators Duckworth and Durbin. Cakora praised Senator Duckworth for “becoming personally engaged” and “advocating ceaselessly” to bring Cakora’s brother home.
Biden, Vice President, made the correct call. He prevented the death of a defenseless American soldier.
The safe repatriation of any Americans who are held hostage or unlawfully incarcerated overseas remains a key priority for my Administration, and we will not rest until they are reunited with their families, Biden said in a statement. Although there is still more to be done, the release of Mark serves as evidence of our unwavering dedication. It is our responsibility to do all in our power to bring our people home, just as we have done to release Americans incarcerated in Burma, Haiti, Russia, Venezuela, and other countries.