After being imprisoned for more than two years, US Navy veteran Mark Frerichs was finally released by the Taliban after lengthy, intense negotiations with the current administration.

The Taliban previously denied having Frerichs on their hands. Still, after negotiations involving a prisoner swap for a vital associate of the Afgan rulers, the veteran was released and admitted to having been captive since 2020.

Two Years in Captivity, Now Free

“Today, Mark Frerichs was handed over to the US, and Haji Bashir was handed over to us at Kabul airport,” said Amir Khan Muttaqi, the Acting Afghan Foreign Minister, on Monday.

Bashir Noorzai was a notorious drug lord and Taliban member who had spent 17 years and six months in US captivity. The Afghan druglord was held at the infamous US military prison at Guantanamo Bay, according to Muttaqi, to which a senior Biden administration official firmly debunked.

Frerichs, a Navy veteran from Illinois, served as a civil engineer contractor in Afghanistan when he was kidnapped in late January 2020—less than a month before the US signed a peace deal with the Taliban. According to news reports, he was believed to be held by the Haqqani network, a faction of the Afgan rulers.

As previously stated, the Taliban flatly denied having him captive; however, the New Yorker Magazine obtained a video earlier this year confirming the Navy veteran’s current situation, in which he can be seen pleading for his release.

Mark Frerichs
(Screenshot from CBS Chicago/YouTube)

“Please, release me… release me so that I may be reunited with my family. Thank you,” Frerichs said in the video taken back in November.

The successful prisoner swap was confirmed by US officials involved in the negotiations, who added that the Navy veteran appeared physically and mentally stable as he boarded the plane on his own.