Taliban releases US contractor Mark Frerichs

American contractor Mark Frerichs has been released by the Taliban after nearly two years of being held as a prisoner.

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The Associated Press reported Monday that Frerichs was released in a prisoner exchange for Bashir Noorzai.

The Taliban made the announcement, BBC News reported.

Noorzai, according to the AP, was a drug lord and member of the Taliban, who said he had been held by the U.S. government for 17 years and six months at Guantanamo Bay. Noorzai’s detention was not confirmed by the AP.

Noorzai had been serving a life sentence for drug trafficking, BBC News reported. He was not a government official but “provided strong support including weapons,” according to Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid.

Frerichs’ family confirmed to the AP that he had been freed.

A source familiar with the exchange told CNN that President Joe Biden spoke on the phone with Charlene Cakora, Frerichs’ sister.

The White House later released a statement that confirmed Frerichs’ release, saying “he will soon be home.”

“Bringing the negotiations that led to Mark’s freedom to a successful resolution required difficult decisions, which I did not take lightly.  Our priority now is to make sure Mark receives a healthy and safe return and is given the space and time he needs to transition back into society,” the White House wrote.

Frerichs is a Navy veteran who had been living in Kabul, working as a civil engineer for a decade when he was abducted by the Taliban in 2020, BBC News reported.