Afghan president: Taliban to release 2 American University profs in prisoner swap
Kevin King, a U.S. citizen, and Timothy Weeks were kidnapped at gunpoint from the American University of Afghanistan in Kabul in August of 2016.President Ashraf Ghani said on national television Tuesday that the prisoner exchange would free two American University professors — U.S. citizen Kevin King and Australian citizen Timothy Weeks. The two were kidnapped at gunpoint from the American University of Afghanistan in Kabul in August 2016.
Timothy Weeks and Kevin King have spent more than three years in captivity.
The Taliban have freed two hostages in exchange for three imprisoned senior militants, Taliban sources say . American Kevin King and Australian Timothy Weeks, lecturers at the Last week Afghan authorities revealed a deal had been reached in an effort to restart peace talks with the Taliban .
ISLAMABAD (AP) — The Taliban said they freed on Tuesday an American and an Australian hostage held since 2016 in exchange for three top Taliban figures who were released by the Kabul government and flown out of Afghanistan the previous day.
Afghanistan prisoner swap delayed, complicating efforts to restart talks with Taliban
The deal would have freed two professors for three Taliban-linked militants and may have helped restart U.S.-Taliban negotiations.
"The Australian government has never stopped pressing for their release, but we will not give a running commentary on the current process," a department statement Both said they are being treated well by the Taliban but that they remain prisoners and appealed to their governments to help set them free .
KABUL, Afghanistan — The Taliban freed two Westerners they had held for more than three years on Tuesday, in exchange for the release of three senior insurgent leaders, officials said , in a deal that officials hoped could pave the way for Afghan peace talks with the Taliban .
The hostages — American, Kevin King and Australian Timothy Weeks — were released in southern Zabul province, ending their more than three years in captivity.
According to a Taliban official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to talk to the media, the release took place in the province’s Now Bahar district, a region largely under Taliban control.
It wasn’t immediately known if the two hostages, both professors at the American University of Kabul, were handed over to Afghan government representatives, intermediaries, or U.S. forces.
Their freedom 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.
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American Kevin King and his colleague were kidnapped in August outside the American University of Afghanistan.
More US hostages . US intelligence officials believed the couple were being held by the Haqqani Network The Afghan government has captured several senior members of the Haqqani Network and US officials believed the Taliban faction had hoped to exchange American hostages for their release.
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 a week ago announced 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.
King and Weeks, the two captives held by the Taliban 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, King and Weeks looked healthier and said a deadline for their release was set for June 16 that year.
Both said they are being treated well by the Taliban but that they remain prisoners and appealed to their governments to help set them free. It was impossible to know whether they were forced to speak.
The Latest: Taliban say they freed US and Australian hostage
The Latest on the Afghanistan prisoner swap with the Taliban for American and Australian hostage held by insurgents since 2016 (all times local): 1:45 p.m. The Taliban say they have freed two hostages — American Kevin King and Australian Timothy Weeks — in southern Afghanistan, ending more than three years of their captivity. 1:45 p.m.
KABUL - The Afghan Taliban released a video on Wednesday showing an Australian and an American hostage pleading with the US government to negotiate with their captors and saying that unless a prisoner exchange was agreed they would be killed.
The Taliban Five were long-term Afghan detainees at Guantanamo Bay and formerly high-ranking members of the Taliban government of Afghanistan who, after being held indefinitely without charges, were exchanged for United States Army sergeant Bowe Bergdahl.
Subsequently, U.S. officials said that American forces had launched a rescue mission to free the two, but the captives were not found at the raided location.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and U.S. National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien made separate calls to Ghani on Monday to discuss the prisoners’ release, 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 U.S. 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 U.S. soldier brought talks and an impending deal to a grinding halt.
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 roadmap for what a post -war Afghanistan would look like.
Ghani in his discussions with Pompeo and O’Brien said he wanted a reduction in violence and an all-out cease-fire, his spokesman said.
According to a U.S. State Department statement Tuesday, Pompeo told Ghani the United States was “committed to work closely together to address violence if the President’s decision does not produce the intended results.”
Associated Press writers Abdul Khaliq in Lashkar Gah, Afghanistan, and Tameem Akhgar in Kabul, Afghanistan, contributed to this report.
James Carafano: Trump’s Afghanistan trip shows he’s no isolationist – Illustrates a Trump Doctrine .
President Trump’s visit with U.S. troops, his meeting with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, and his announcement that the U.S. has reopened peace talks with the Taliban showed that the U.S. is in anything but retreat. By now, it should be clear to everyone that accusations claiming Trump is really an isolationist are bogus.TRUMP SAYS PEACE TALKS WITH TALIBAN HAVE RESUMED DURING SURPRISE VISIT TO AFGHANISTANMost recently, when Trump announced a shift in Syria policy, he was accused of "abandoning the Middle East." Over time, the facts on the ground didn't bear out that out.Now we know that the U.S.