Taliban prisoner swap: US and Australian hostages Kevin King and Timothy Weeks freed

Evening Standard 2 weeks ago

The Taliban has freed an American and an Australian hostage held since 2016 in exchange for three senior members of the militant group.

The captives – American Kevin King and Australian Timothy Weeks – were released in southern Zabul province, ending more than three years of being detained against their will.

The release took place in the province’s Now Bahar district, a region largely under Taliban control, according to a Taliban official.

It was not immediately known if the two hostages, both professors at the American University of Kabul, were handed over to Afghan government representatives, intermediaries or US forces.

The three Taliban prisoners were to have been freed more than one week ago by Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, pictured. (AP)

It came hours after the Afghan government freed three Taliban prisoners and sent them to Qatar.

They included Anas Haqqani, the younger brother of the Taliban’s deputy Sirajuddin Haqqani, who also leads the fearsome Haqqani network.

Anas Haqqani, a senior leader of the Haqqani network, was previously arrested by the Afghan Intelligence Service (REUTERS)

It appears the Taliban had refused to hand over the two professors until they received proof their men had reached Qatar.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani announced a week ago the “conditional release” of the Taliban figures, saying at a press event broadcast live on state television that it was a very hard decision he felt he had to make in the interest of the Afghan people.

When were the hostages taken?

Mr King and Mr Weeks were abducted in 2016 outside the American University in Kabul.

The following year, the Taliban released two videos showing the captives.

A January 2017 video showed them appearing pale and gaunt.

In the later video, Mr King and Mr Weeks looked healthier and said a deadline for their release was set for June 16 that year.

Both said they were being treated well by the Taliban but that they remained prisoners and appealed to their governments to help set them free.

It was impossible to know whether they were forced to speak.

Failed rescue mission

US officials said that American forces had launched a rescue mission to free the two, but the captives were not found at the raided location.

US secretary of state Mike Pompeo and US national security adviser Robert O’Brien made separate calls to Mr Ghani on Monday to discuss the prisoners’ release, Mr Ghani’s spokesman Sediq Sediqqi said.

The release and swap were intended to try to restart talks to end Afghanistan’s 18-year war and allow for the eventual withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan.

The United States had been close to an agreement in September with the Taliban but a fresh wave of violence in the Afghan capital that killed a US soldier brought talks and an impending deal to a grinding halt.

US secretary of state Mike Pompeo called Mr Ghani about the prisoner’s release (REUTERS)

The agreement called for direct talks between the Taliban and Afghan government as well as other prominent Afghans to find a negotiated end to the war and set out a road map for what a post-war Afghanistan would look like.

In his discussions with Mr Pompeo and Mr O’Brien, Mr Ghani said he wanted a reduction in violence and an all-out ceasefire, his spokesman said.

According to a US State Department statement, Mr Pompeo told Mr Ghani the United States was “committed to work closely together to address violence if the president’s decision does not produce the intended results”.


Source link
Read also:
The Inquisitr › 2 weeks ago
Two American University professors have been freed from the Taliban after more than three years in captivity, reports NBC News. The two men, American Kevin King and Australian Timothy Weeks, were handed over in Zabul province, on the border of...
ABC News › 2 weeks ago
American and Australian professors Kevin King and Timothy Weeks were kidnapped in Afghanistan and held hostage for 3 years and released by the Taliban in a prisoner swap.
Business Insider › Politics › 2 weeks ago
American Kevin King, 63, and Australian Timothy Weeks, 50, were released from Afghanistan after being held hostage since 2016. The pair's release was facilitated by the Afghan government and the Taliban as part of a prisoner swap which included senior...
The New York Times › 2 weeks ago
Taliban insurgents released two Western hostages - Kevin King from the United States and Timothy Weeks from Australia - on Tuesday in a prisoner exchange deal with the Afghan government, two Afghan officials said.
One America News Network › 2 weeks ago
KABUL (Reuters) - Taliban insurgents released two Western hostages - Kevin King from the United States and Timothy Weeks from Australia - on Tuesday in a prisoner exchange deal with the Afghan
The Week › 2 weeks ago
The Afghan government exchanged three Taliban commanders Tuesday for two Western hostages, American Kevin King and and Australian Timothy Weeks, according to Afghan and Taliban officials. Weeks and King, both professors at the American University of...
HuffPost › 2 weeks ago
American Kevin King and Australian Timothy Weeks, who had been held since 2016, were released in exchange for three top Taliban figures.
New York Post › 2 weeks ago
The Taliban said they freed on Tuesday an American, Kevin King and Australian Timothy Weeks, in exchange for three top Taliban figures.
ABC News › 3 weeks ago
The Taliban have released U.S., Australian hostages in a prisoner swap with the Afghan government.
Concord Monitor › 2 weeks ago
The Taliban freed an American and an Australian held hostage since 2016 on Tuesday, in exchange for three top Taliban figures who were released by the Kabul government and flown out of Afghanistan the previous day.The hostages – American Kevin King...
Sign In

Sign in to follow sources and tags you love, and get personalized stories.

Continue with Google
OR