US soldier Bowe Bergdahl freed by Taliban in Afghanistan


The US president, who was joined at the White House by Sgt Bergdahl's parents, Robert and Jani, said ''he was never forgotten''

Related Stories

A US soldier who has been held by the Taliban in Afghanistan for nearly five years has been freed in deal that includes the release of five Afghan detainees, US officials say.

US Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, 28, was handed to US forces in good health.

The five Afghan detainees were released from the US prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and were handed over to Qatar, which mediated the deal.

President Barack Obama said the US "shared the joy" of the release.

Sgt Bergdahl was the only US soldier being held by the Taliban in Afghanistan.

Officials said he was in good condition and undergoing medical tests at Bagram Air Field, the main US base in Afghanistan.

He would later be flown to a US military medical centre in Germany to "decompress" after his ordeal, American defence sources told the AFP news agency.

Who are the Guantanamo detainees?
Unidentified detainee walks in the exercise yard at Guantanamo (8 April 2014) The five released inmates had all been held at Guantanamo since 2002

Mohammad Fazl served as the Taliban's deputy defence minister during America's military campaign in 2001. Accused of possible war crimes, including the murder of thousands of Shia Muslims.

Khirullah Khairkhwa was a senior Taliban official serving as interior minister and governor of Herat, Afghanistan's third largest city. Alleged to have had direct links to Osama bin Laden.

Abdul Haq Wasiq was the Taliban's deputy minister of intelligence. Said to have been central in forming alliances with other Islamic fundamentalist groups to fight against US and coalition forces.

Mullah Norullah Noori was a senior Taliban military commander and a governor. Also accused of being involved in the mass killings of Shia Muslims.

Mohammad Nabi Omari held multiple Taliban leadership roles, including chief of security. Alleged to have been involved in attacks against US and coalition forces.

'Never forgotten'

Sgt Bergdahl's parents, Robert and Jani, joined President Obama at the White House on Saturday, hours after the president told them of their son's release.

Offering thanks to those who took part in his son's recovery, Robert Bergdahl said his son was having trouble speaking English after his rescue.

US Army Sgt Bowe Bergdahl was held by the Taliban in Afghanistan for nearly five years

President Obama told reporters that while Sgt Bergdahl was gone "he was never forgotten", adding that the US had an "ironclad commitment" to bringing home its prisoners of war.

He confirmed the Qatari government had given the US assurances "that it will put in place measures to protect our national security".

Officials said the Taliban had handed him over on Saturday evening, local time, in eastern Afghanistan.

Several dozen US special forces were involved in the exchange, they said, which took place near the Pakistani border.

Yellow ribbon tied to a tree in Hailey, Idaho, honouring Sgt Bowe Bergdahl The soldier's hometown of Hailey continued to highlight his captivity

A senior official told the BBC that, once aboard the US helicopter, Sgt Bergdahl wrote "SF?" - asking if they were special operations forces - on a paper plate and showed it to the pilots, who replied: "Yes, we've been looking for you for a long time."

The senior official said: "At that point, Sgt Bergdahl broke down".

The soldier, of Hailey, Idaho, was captured on 30 June 2009, about two months after arriving in eastern Afghanistan.

US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel said Sgt Bergdahl would be given "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".

Robert Bergdahl (22 June 2013) Sgt Bergdahl's father, seen here at a rally last June, has been tirelessly campaigning for his son's release

Mr Obama thanked the emir of Qatar for his role in enabling the transfer to take place.

The prisoners were thought to be the most senior Afghans still held at Guantanamo.

The Taliban said they welcomed their release with "great happiness", AFP reports.

Under the deal, the detainees will be banned from leaving Qatar for at least a year.

In January, the US military obtained a new video of Sgt Bergdahl, giving his family renewed hope of his eventual return.

Throughout his captivity, the soldier's hometown had continued to remember him with special events and yellow ribbons tied to utility poles and trees.


More on This Story

Related Stories


This entry is now closed for comments

Jump to comments pagination
  • rate this

    Comment number 445.

    I'm seriously treading on eggs here, but here I go: The first known , and it was referred to as a holocaust, was when all bankers of Jewish extract were ordered to leave London. The ship(s) left shore and got stuck...

    Not going to say any more....

  • rate this

    Comment number 444.


    Selective rhetoric and mostly irrelevant to the practices of Israel's armed forces. The USA perpetrates much of the Middle East turmoil through continually defending the indefensible ... all due to self-interest in the Whitehouse.

  • rate this

    Comment number 443.

    @ MagicKirin.

    The Israeli state is actively importing people to fill illegal settlements simply, in my simple mind, to claim land that is not actually theirs. And then make it extremely difficult for the original, displaced, residents to conduct business or even travel.

    I wonder why they are a little bit annoyed. I'd be a bit more expressive, but risk the HYS police...

  • rate this

    Comment number 442.

    Britain, I think, were first to try and 'tame' Afghanistan. Failed. Then the Russians. Failed. NATO (?) tried again. Failed so far.

    One point I'd like to make, though, is that the west supplied weapons to the Taliban (including bin-laden) because the Ruskies were trying to put the Afghan people down. Durr... Err... Shome mistake...

  • rate this

    Comment number 441.

    ref #439
    the aggressive occupation practiced by Israel is certainly NOT 'progressive'

    Some history for you which you and others sorly need. Israel was attacked in 48,67,73 in 67 the residents of Transjordan in jeruslalem were invisted to join State of Israel. they like the attacker in France were unwilling to consider Jews human beings


Comments 5 of 445


More Asia stories


Features & Analysis

  • Dana Lone HillDana Lone Hill

    The Native American names that break Facebook rules

  • Painting from Rothschild collectionDark arts Watch

    The 50-year fight to recover paintings looted by the Nazis

  • Mukesh SinghNo remorse

    Delhi bus rapist says victim shouldn't have fought back

  • Signposts showing the US and UK flagsAn ocean apart

    How British misunderstanding of the US is growing

Elsewhere on the BBC

  • StudentsBull market

    Employers are snapping up students with this desirable degree


  • Former al-Qaeda double agent Aimen DeanHARDtalk Watch

    Islamic State is about revenge says former al-Qaeda member turned spy Aimen Dean

Try our new site and tell us what you think. Learn more
Take me there

Copyright © 2015 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.