US release senior Taliban figure after decades in detention

Bashir Noorzai was arrested in 2005 and charged with smuggling more than $50m worth of heroin into the United States


Reuters September 19, 2022
Haji Bashir Noorzai after his release from US custody.

KABUL:

A senior Taliban figure, Haji Bashir Noorzai, has been released after decades of detention by the United States and arrived in Kabul on Monday, a Taliban spokesperson said.

Afghan state media reports said he had been among the last Afghans held at Guantanamo Bay detention camp.

"Honorable Haji Bashir was released after two decades of imprisonment and arrived in Kabul today," said Mohammad Naeem, a Taliban spokesperson based in Doha, in a Tweet.

Noorzai was released in exchange fo US citizen Mark Frerich, who had been abducted by the Taliban before the fall of Afghanistan. 

Read: Afghan insurgent leader calls for new anti-Taliban 'political' front

Bashir Noorzai, an Afghan tribal leader, was arrested in 2005 and charged with smuggling more than $50 million worth of heroin into the United States.

Noorzai’s lawyer later denied his client was a drug dealer and argued the charges should be dismissed because US government officials duped him into believing he would not be arrested.

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