The U.S. soldier who’s been held prisoner by the Taliban since disappearing from his base in Afghanistan in 2009 is on his way home, news outlets are reporting.
Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, 28, was released in exchange for five terrorist prisoners held in Guantanamo Bay.
According to Fox News, the deal followed weeks of negotiations between the United States and the Taliban. The government of Qatar brokered the deal. The Guantanamo Bay prisoners will be released into Qatar’s custody, Fox News reported.
The release about 10:30 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time also came only days after President Obama announced a firm withdrawal date for U.S. forces in Afghanistan, though no reports are linking the two so far.
According to ABC News, Bergdahl boarded a U.S. helicopter in eastern Afghanistan at a rendezvous where he was guarded or accompanied by about 18 Taliban. When he got on the helicopter, where the noise was too loud to speak without a headset hookup, he scrawled “SF?” on a paper plate, asking if the Americans were Special Forces.
When told they were, Bergdahl wept.
What will happen to the prisoners released to Qatar’s custody was unclear – but they are expected to be detained for at least a year, the Daily Mail reported.
In a statement released to the media, Bergdahl’s parents, Jani and Robert Bergdahl of Sun Valley, Idaho, said they were overjoyed at the news.
“We were so joyful and relieved when President Obama called us today to give us the news that Bowe is finally coming home,” said Bob and Jani Bergdahl. “We cannot wait to wrap our arms around our only son.”
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