WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Obama announced Saturday the release of U.S. Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who had been held captive nearly five years in Afghanistan.
Bergdahl, of Hailey, Idaho, had been the only American soldier held prisoner in Afghanistan at the time of his release.
U.S.officials said Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl's release was part of a negotiation that includes the release of five Afghan detainees held in the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
"On behalf of the American people I was honored to call his parents to express our joy that they can expect his safe return," Obama said in a statement distributed by the White House.
The negotiation between the U.S. and the Taliban was mediated by the government of Qatar.
Obama thanked the Emir of Qatar, whose "personal commitment to this effort is a testament to the partnership between our two countries," and expressed hope that Bergdahl's release would portend well on the prospects for peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan.
"While we are mindful of the challenges, it is our hope Sergeant Bergdahl's recovery could potentially open the door for broader discussions among Afghans about the future of their country by building confidence that it is possible for all sides to find common ground," Obama said.
The 28-year-old Berghdal had been held by the Taliban since June 30, 2009. The officials said he is in good condition and able to walk.
The officials insisted on anonymity in order to describe the details on Bergdahl's release.
While they were not available for interviews, his parents, Bob and Jani Bergdahl released this statement:
“We were so joyful and relieved when President Obama called us today to give us the news that Bowe is finally coming home! We cannot wait to wrap our arms around our only son. We want to thank Bowe’s many supporters in Idaho, around the nation and around the world. We thank the Amir of Qatar for his efforts. And of course, we want to take this opportunity to thank all those in the many U.S. Government agencies who never gave up. Today, we are ecstatic!”
Idaho Governor C.L. "Butch" Otter issued the following statement on Saturday:
“Miss Lori and I couldn’t be happier. Bowe has been in all our prayers for years. So his release from Taliban captivity is cause to continue our prayers – now in gratitude for their fulfillment. We join all of Idaho and America in expressing our joy and welcoming this wonderful news. We look forward to Sgt. Bergdahl’s safe return to Idaho and his reunion with family, friends, and all those who have rallied around them. Today, Idaho gives thanks. Soon we all will celebrate Bowe’s freedom and homecoming."