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Taliban releases 2 American prisoners

Taliban members are seen at the airport in Kabul (Credit Image: © Saifurahman Safi/Xinhua via ZUMA Press/TNS)
December 20, 2022

The Taliban have released two detained Americans, who arrived in Qatar on Tuesday, the State Department has confirmed.

State Department spokesman Ned Price said no Afghan prisoners or other people of interest were exchanged for their release, the Washington Post reported.

U.S. officials described it as a “goodwill gesture” from the Taliban, who are fresh off 20 years of war with the U.S., the Post reported.

CNN, the first to report the story, reported that one of the released Americans is filmmaker Ivor Shearer, who was detained in August along with an Afghan producer, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.

At publication time, CNN was withholding the other American’s name at their family’s request.

A senior administration official told CNN the “United States welcomes the release of two US nationals from detention in Afghanistan. We continue to provide all appropriate assistance. We are glad these US nationals will reunite with their families soon,” adding that they would not yet confirm their names.

The Post reported that Price declined to comment on whether the Taliban were looking to distract the West from oppression of Afghan women and girls after the Islamic fundamentalist group swept back into control of the country last year. Most recently, the Taliban suspended all female students’ ongoing university educations.

Still, Price said that the Taliban should expect that move, “which is in contravention to the commitments they have made repeatedly and publicly to their own people, will carry costs,” the Post reported.

The Taliban released another American, who had been held longer than two years, in September. Mark Frerichs, a construction contractor detained while working in Afghanistan, was exchanged for Haji Bashir Noorzai, a Taliban member imprisoned by the U.S. for 17 years on drug charges.

This was a breaking news story. The details were periodically updated as more information became available.