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Joe Biden calls on Taliban to release American hostage

News Agencies | Updated on: 31 January 2022, 8:52 IST

US President Joe Biden on Sunday (local time) called for the release of US Navy veteran Mark Frerichs, who was taken hostage by Taliban in Afghanistan nearly two years ago.

"Two years ago tomorrow, U.S. Navy veteran Mark Frerichs was taken hostage in Afghanistan. A civil engineer, he spent a decade helping the people of Afghanistan. He has done nothing wrong. And yet, for two years the Taliban has held him captive," Biden said in a statement.

The statement said "Mark is a native of Illinois. A son. A brother. And his family has now endured two gut-wrenching years--praying for his safety, wondering where and how he is, aching for his return."

Biden said that the hostage-taking is an act of particular "cruelty and cowardice".

"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," read the statement.

"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," the statement added.

The Taliban took over control of Kabul on August 15 last year and following this the country has been battered by deepening economic, humanitarian and security crisis.

A combination of a suspension of foreign aid, the freezing of Afghan government assets, and international sanctions on the Taliban, have plunged the country, already suffering from high poverty levels, into a full-blown economic crisis.


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First published: 31 January 2022, 8:52 IST