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New video shows Navy vet held hostage by Taliban since 2020 begging for freedom

Navy veteran Mark Frerichs (The New Yorker/Video screenshot)
April 01, 2022

A newly surfaced video shows U.S. Navy veteran Mark Frerichs begging to be freed from captivity in Afghanistan, where the Taliban has held the American for more than two years.

The video, provided to The New Yorker on Friday by an unidentified source in Afghanistan, is the first evidence showing that Frerich was alive as of November 28, 2021.

The hostage tape opens with the following words displayed on the screen: “Mark Frerichs, a civil engineer and Navy veteran, was abducted in Kabul, Afghanistan, on January 31, 2020. The Taliban are believed to have been holding him hostage since then. Frerichs’s sister confirmed that the man in the video is her brother.”

The video then shows an older man who identifies himself as Mark Frerichs.

“My name is Mark Frerichs. Today is 28 November 2021. I’ve been patiently awaiting my release,” he says slowly. “I’d like to ask the leadership of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan: please release me. Release me so that I may be reunited with my family. Thank you.”

The video closes with the following statement: “Michael Ames, a journalist who has written about Frerichs case, recently obtained this video from an unidentified source in Afghanistan.”

Charlene Cakora, Frerichs’ sister, said the video was “public confirmation of our family’s long-held belief that he is alive after more than two years in captivity.”

Last year, following the Biden administration’s botched withdrawal from Afghanistan, Frerichs’ family expressed frustration that their loved one, who served his country, was left behind, noting that efforts to meet with national security adviser Jake Sullivan were denied.

Officials said the new video is being assessed, and Sullivan plans to have an in-person meeting with Cakora in May.

“President Biden has been clear: the Administration will continue to work until every U.S. citizen being held hostage or wrongfully detained comes home,” a senior administration official said. “We will never ask families to be content, knowing that their loved one is not home with them.”

Earlier this year, President Joe Biden released a statement marking two years since Frerichs went missing and was captured by the Taliban.

“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 it can expect any consideration of its aspirations for legitimacy. This is not negotiable,” Biden’s statement read.

“To Mark, and to all the Americans being held hostage and wrongfully detained overseas, and to all their families and friends who are enduring the nightmare of their absence: know that my administration will continue to work steadfastly until every American being unjustly held against their will comes home.”