Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, the only U.S. soldier held captive in Afghanistan, is free today after the Obama administration agreed to release five Afghan detainees from the prison at Guantanamo Bay.
In a statement issued after U.S. officials took custody of Bergdahl in Afghanistan, near the Pakistani border, President Barack Obama said his release “is a reminder of America’s unwavering commitment to leave no man or woman in uniform behind on the battlefield.”
Taliban fighters took Bergdahl on June 30, 2009.
Bergdahl’s captors released a video of the soldier, who is now 28 years old, in January, providing the first confirmation in six months that he was still alive. In the video, he appeared gaunt, prompting fears his health might be failing. But on Saturday, officials who witnessed his release told the Associated Press he was able to walk on his own and appeared in good condition.
Bergdahl’s release came after a week of intense negotiations with the Taliban. The government of Qatar helped mediate the transaction and took custody of the Guantanamo detainees.
In April, reports surfaced indicating the Taliban was willing to negotiate for Bergdahl’s freedom but didn’t know which U.S. agency had the authority to make a deal. They made an offer to release him in exchange for five detainees last year but nothing came of the proposal.