U.S. Navy veteran Mark Frerichs has been held captive for two years.
Frerichs, a civil engineer and contractor from Lombard, Illinois, had long worked in Afghanistan on development projects for the benefit of the Afghan people. He was taken hostage on January 31, 2020, according to press reports. Frerichs is believed to be held by the Taliban. The State Department Rewards for Justice program is currently offering up to $5 million for information that leads to the location, recovery and return of Frerichs.
“Threatening the safety of Americans or any innocent civilians is always unacceptable, and hostage-taking is an act of particular cruelty and cowardice,” said President Joe Biden in a White House statement. “The Taliban must immediately release Mark before it can expect any consideration of its aspirations for legitimacy. This is not negotiable.”
State Department spokesperson Ned Price reiterated in a statement, “The United States has raised Mark’s case in every meeting with the Taliban, and we have been clear that the legitimacy the Taliban seek is impossible to consider while they hold a U.S. citizen hostage.” Frerichs’ “release is among our core, non-negotiable priorities,” stated spokesperson Price. “We will continue to send a clear message to Taliban leadership: immediately and safely release Mark and disavow the practice of hostage-taking.”
President Biden addressed Mark Frerichs and other Americans being held hostage or wrongfully detained overseas and their families and friends who are enduring the nightmare of their absence: “know that my administration will continue to work steadfastly until every American being unjustly held against their will comes home.”