Taliban releases US soldier held 5 years

 

The only American solider held prisoner in Afghanistan has been freed from Taliban captivity in exchange for five Afghan detainees at Guantanamo Bay, officials said Saturday.

Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, held captive for nearly five years, is now in U.S. custody, White House officials announced.

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"On behalf of the American people, I was honored to call his parents to express our joy that they can expect his safe return, mindful of their courage and sacrifice throughout this ordeal," President Obama said in a statement.

Obama praised the Amir of Qatar for assisting in Bergdahl's release, saying that the Amir's "personal commitment to this effort is a testament to the partnership between our two countries."

"Today we also remember the many troops held captive and whom remain missing or unaccounted for in America’s past wars. 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 continued.

Bergdahl, 28, is under the care of the U.S. military after being handed over by his captors in Afghanistan, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel said in a statement.

"We will give him all the support he needs to help him recover from this ordeal, and we are grateful that he will soon be reunited with his family."

Hagel also informed Congress of the decision to transfer five detainees from Guantánamo Bay to Qatar, which will ensure security measures are in place and that the national security of the United States will not be compromised, he said.

Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said it is the ethos of U.S. military "that we never leave a fallen comrade."

"Today we have back in our ranks the only remaining captured soldier from our conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. Welcome home SGT Bowe Bergdahl."

Bergdahl was captured in Afghanistan on June 30, 2009 while serving in a parachute infantry regiment of the the Army's 25th Infantry Division.

This story was updated at 2:14 p.m.