US soldier freed from captivity in Afghanistan

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Updated: 6/02 7:04 am
WASHINGTON (AP, CNN, KRNV & MyNews4.com) -- U.S. officials say the only American soldier held prisoner in Afghanistan has been freed and is in U.S. custody.

The officials say Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl's release was part of a negotiation that includes the release of five Afghan detainees held in the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

The negotiation between the U.S. and the Taliban was mediated by the government of Qatar.

A statement from Bergdahl's parents read, "We were so joyful and relieved when President Obama called us today to give us the news that Bowe is finally coming home! We cannot wait to wrap our arms around our only son."

The 28-year-old Berghdal had been held by the Taliban since June 30, 2009. The officials say he is in good condition and able to walk.  NBC's Ayman Mohyeldin reports Berghdal's swap involved dozens of US special operations forces. There were 18 Taliban members on site at the exchange and no shots were fired.

Mohyeldin also reports the 5 prisoners released were Mohammad Fazl, Mullah Norullah Noori, Mohammed Nabi, Khairullah Khairkhwa and Abdul Haq Wasiq. There are still 149 people being held at Guantanamo Bay.


Support Bowe Bergdahl billboard off I-80 near Winnemucca
Support Bowe Bergdahl billboard off I-80 near Winnemucca
(CNN) -- Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, the American soldier held captive for nearly five years by militants during the Afghanistan war, has been released in an apparent swap for Guantanamo detainees, authorities said Saturday.

A senior Defense official told CNN that the U.S. military recovered Berghdahl from his captors around 10:30 a.m. ET in a peaceful handover in eastern Afghanistan. U.S. special operations forces conducted the rescue.

The official said that once on the U.S. helicopter, Berghdal wrote on a paper plate, "SF?" meaning, "Special Forces?" He wrote because of the noise. The operators sitting with Bergdahl responded loudly, saying, "Yes, we've been looking for you for a long time." Berghdal broke down crying, the official recounted.

In exchange for Bergdahl's release, five detainees at Guantanamo Bay will be released to Qatar. The US has "appropriate assurances" that Qatar will be able to secure the detainees there. They are under a travel ban for a year.

The United States believes Bergdahl had been held for the bulk of his captivity in Pakistan, the official said. It was unclear when he was moved to Afghanistan.

The transfer was brokered through the local Qatari government, the official said. Talks for the transfer began about a week ago.

Bergdahl's parents happened to still be in Washington, in town for Memorial Day.

Bergdahl was deployed to Afghanistan in May 2009 and captured by the Taliban on June 30, 2009, in Paktika province.

In July of that year, a U.S. military official said the soldier was being held by the clan of warlord Siraj Haqqani.
Statement by the President on Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl:

Today the American people are pleased that we will be able to welcome home Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, held captive for nearly five years. On behalf of the American people, I was honored to call his parents to express our joy that they can expect his safe return, mindful of their courage and sacrifice throughout this ordeal. Today we also remember the many troops held captive and whom remain missing or unaccounted for in America’s past wars. Sergeant Bergdahl’s recovery is a reminder of America’s unwavering commitment to leave no man or woman in uniform behind on the battlefield. And as we find relief in Bowe’s recovery, our thoughts and prayers are with those other Americans whose release we continue to pursue.

For his assistance in helping to secure our soldier's return, I extend my deepest appreciation to the Amir of Qatar. The Amir’s personal commitment to this effort is a testament to the partnership between our two countries. The United States is also grateful for the support of the Government of Afghanistan throughout our efforts to secure Sergeant Bergdahl’s release.

This week the United States renewed its commitment to the Afghan people and made clear that we will continue to support them as they chart their own future. The United States also remains committed to supporting an Afghan-led reconciliation process as the surest way to achieve a stable, secure, sovereign, and unified Afghanistan. While we are mindful of the challenges, it is our hope Sergeant Bergdahl’s recovery could potentially open the door for broader discussions among Afghans about the future of their country by building confidence that it is possible for all sides to find common ground.
Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel
Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel
Statement from Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel on the return of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl:

A few hours ago, the family of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl was informed by President Obama that their long wait for his return will soon be over. Sgt. Bergdahl is now under the care of the U.S. military after being handed over by his captors in Afghanistan. We will give him all the support he needs to help him recover from this ordeal, and we are grateful that he will soon be reunited with his family.
Also today, I informed Congress of the decision to transfer five detainees from Guantánamo Bay to Qatar. The United States has coordinated closely with Qatar to ensure that security measures are in place and the national security of the United States will not be compromised. I appreciate the efforts of the Emir of Qatar to put these measures in place, and I want to thank him for his instrumental role in facilitating the return of Sgt. Bergdahl.
Sgt. Bergdahl's return is a powerful reminder of the enduring, sacred commitment our nation makes to all those who serve in uniform. The United States government never forgot Sgt. Bergdahl, nor did we stop working to bring him back. I am grateful to all the military and civilian professionals ­ from DOD and our interagency partners ­ who helped make this moment possible, and to all those Americans who stood vigil with the Bergdahl family.
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