90.9 WBUR - Boston's NPR news station
Top Stories:
PLEDGE NOW
Here and Now with Robin Young
Public radio's live
midday news program
With sponsorship from
Mathworks - Accelerating the pace of engineering and science
Accelerating the pace
of engineering and science
Thursday, June 20, 2013

Taliban Offer Exchange For Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl

A man believed to be Bowe Bergdahl, left, is pictured in a frame grab from a video released by the Taliban. The image was released by IntelCenter on Dec. 8, 2010. (IntelCenter via AP)

A man believed to be Bowe Bergdahl, left, is pictured in a frame grab from a video released by the Taliban. The image was released by IntelCenter on Dec. 8, 2010. (IntelCenter via AP)

The Afghan Taliban are ready to free a U.S. soldier held captive since 2009 in exchange for five of their senior operatives imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay as a conciliatory gesture, a senior spokesman for the group said Thursday.

The offer came as an Afghan government spokesman said President Hamid Karzai is now willing to join planned peace talks with the Taliban – provided that the Taliban flag and nameplate are removed from the militant group’s newly opened political office in Doha, the capital of the Gulf state of Qatar. Karzai also wants a formal letter from the United States supporting the Afghan government.

The only known American soldier held captive from the Afghan war is U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, 27, of Hailey, Idaho. He disappeared from his base in southeastern Afghanistan on June 30, 2009, and is believed held in Pakistan.

In an exclusive telephone interview with The Associated Press from his Doha office, Taliban spokesman Shaheen Suhail said on Thursday that Bergdahl “is, as far as I know, in good condition.”

This undated photo provided by the Bergdahl family and released by the Idaho National Guard shows Pfc. Bowe R. Bergdahl, 23, of Ketchum, Idaho. (The Bergdahl Family via AP)

This undated photo provided by the Bergdahl family and released by the Idaho National Guard shows Pfc. Bowe R. Bergdahl, 23, of Ketchum, Idaho. (The Bergdahl Family via AP)

Suhail did not elaborate on Bergdahl’s current whereabouts. Among the five prisoners the Taliban have consistently requested are Khairullah Khairkhwa, a former Taliban governor of Herat, and Mullah Mohammed Fazl, a former top Taliban military commander, both of whom have been held for more than a decade.

Bergdahl’s parents earlier this month received a letter from their son through the International Committee of the Red Cross. They did not release details of the letter but renewed their plea for his release. The soldier’s captivity has been marked by only sporadic releases of videos and information about his whereabouts.

The prisoner exchange is the first item on the Taliban’s agenda before even opening peace talks, said Suhail, who is a top Taliban figure and served as first secretary at the Afghan Embassy in the Pakistani capital of Islamabad before the Taliban government’s ouster in 2001.

Guest:

  • Tim Marsano, colonel in the Idaho National Guard who acts as media liaison for the Bergdahl family.
  • Indira Lakshmanan, senior correspondent for Bloomberg News.

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
Robin and Jeremy

Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

November 20 3 Comments

The Man Behind ‘Mockingjay’

Francis Lawrence describes the rewards and challenges of bringing "The Hunger Games" books to the screen.

November 20 Comment

Iraq War Vet Wins National Book Award For Fiction

The judges described the short stories in Phil Klay's collection "Redeployment" as brutal, piercing and sometimes darkly funny.

November 19 11 Comments

New Film Revisits The Jerry Sandusky Sex Abuse Case

The Penn State assistant football coach will likely spend the rest of his life in prison, but that's not the end of the story.

November 19 222 Comments

Without Slavery, Would The U.S. Be The Leading Economic Power?

Edward Baptist argues in his new book that slavery was integral to establishing the America as a world economic power.