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White House Urges Taliban To Release Captive American Frerichs

This poster image courtesy of the FBI shows the kidnapping poster for Mark Randall Frerichs.

U.S. President Joe Biden on January 30 called on the Taliban to release American civil engineer and contractor Mark Frerichs as he reaches the two-year mark since his abduction in Kabul.

Frerichs, a U.S. Navy veteran, is thought to be in the captivity of the Taliban-linked Haqqani network.

"Threatening the safety of Americans or any innocent civilians is always unacceptable, and hostage-taking is an act of particular cruelty and cowardice," the White House said in a January 30 statement.

"The Taliban must immediately release Mark before it can expect any consideration of its aspirations for legitimacy. This is not negotiable."

A Taliban-led government has ruled most of Afghanistan since early September following the withdrawal of U.S.-led international military forces and as Afghan security forces and its UN-backed government crumbled.

The United Nations and others have urgently warned of a humanitarian catastrophe in the wake of the two-decade war and with the Taliban and its allies carrying out revenge killings against perceived enemies among civilians.

Frerichs' sister, Charlene Cakora, issued a statement thanking Biden for his statement, adding, “But what we really want is to have Mark home."

“We know the president has options in front of him to make that happen and hope Mark’s safe return will become a priority for him personally,” she said.

The U.S. State Department has offered up to $5 million in rewards for information that helps locate and free Frerichs and Paul Overby, a 78-year-old author from the United States who disappeared in 2014 in Khost Province near the border with Pakistan.

Based on reporting by AP