After two arduous years, American engineer and US Navy veteran Mark Randall Frerichs was finally released by the Taliban after President Joe Biden agreed to a prisoner swap deal.

The Biden administration has been working on releasing Frerichs for months after the Illinois native was captured by the rebels while doing contract work in a high conflict zone. In January, the US called out the Taliban for keeping Frerichs for years. They said that he has been helping locals for years. At the time, the US was unwilling to negotiate any terms.

“Threatening the safety of Americans or any innocent civilians is always unacceptable, and hostage-taking is an act of particular cruelty and cowardice. The Taliban must immediately release Mark before expecting any consideration of its aspirations for legitimacy. This is not negotiable,” said Biden in a press release.

After months of coordination with the Taliban, Frerichs was finally freed and brought home. However, it did not mean the negotiations went as smoothly. A senior administration official told CNN that releasing Haji Bashir Noorzai, a prominent Taliban leader, was crucial to the negotiations.

Frerichs’ family also praised the Biden administration for acting on his release, something the Trump administration could not accomplish. Mark’s sister Charlene Cakora said, “some folks were arguing against the deal that brought Mark home, but President Biden did what was right. He saved the life of an innocent American veteran.”

“I am so happy to hear that my brother is safe and on his way home to us. Our family has prayed for this each day of the more than 31 months he has been a hostage,” Cakora said. “We never gave up hope that he would survive and come home safely to us.”

Secretary of State Antony Blinken
Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken delivers a speech on U.S. foreign policy at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C. (Source: GPA Photo Archive/Flickr)

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken also confirmed his release.

“Mark’s soon going to be reunited with his family,” said Blinken before a Freedom of Expression Roundtable at the UN in New York. “The President had an opportunity to speak to them a few hours ago.”