United States President Barack Obama said Saturday that an American soldier held for half a decade in Afghanistan has been freed.
“Today the American people are pleased that we will be able to welcome home Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, held captive for nearly five years,” said Obama, announcing his release.
“On behalf of the American people, I was honoured to call his parents to express our joy that they can expect his safe return, mindful of their courage and sacrifice throughout this ordeal.”
In his statement, Obama expressed his “deepest appreciation” to the Emir of Qatar “for his assistance in helping to secure our soldier’s return.”
“The Emir’s personal commitment to this effort is a testament to the partnership between our two countries,” the president said.
He added: “Sergeant Bergdahl’s recovery is a reminder of America’s unwavering commitment to leave no man or woman in uniform behind on the battlefield,” Obama added.
“And as we find relief in Bowe’s recovery, our thoughts and prayers are with those other Americans whose release we continue to pursue.”
Meanwhile US Secretary of Defense, Chuck Hagel has said in a separate statement that he had informed Congress of the decision to transfer five detainees from Guantanamo Bay to Qatar in exchange for Bergdahl, who was the only remaining American soldier captured from conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Secretary of State John Kerry said the “cost of years of captivity to Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl and his family is immeasurable.”
“As we look to the future in Afghanistan, the United States will continue to support steps that improve the climate for conversations between Afghans about how to end the bloodshed in their country through an Afghan-led reconciliation process,” Kerry said in a statement.
Since his capture in 2009, Bergdahl has appeared in several Taliban videos.