Biden calls for release of US Navy veteran held hostage in Afghanistan as more killed since Taliban takeover

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Biden calls for release of US Navy veteran held hostage in Afghanistan as more killed since Taliban takeover

NEWYou can now listen to Fox News articles! President Biden on Sunday called for the release of Mark Frerichs, the U.S. Navy veteran and civil en

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President Biden on Sunday called for the release of Mark Frerichs, the U.S. Navy veteran and civil engineer who was taken hostage in Afghanistan two years ago today. 

Frerichs, from Lombard, Illinois, was kidnapped on January 31, 2020, from Kabul and is believed to be in the custody of the Taliban-linked Haqqani network.

He’d been living in Kabul for a decade working on construction projects as an engineer when he was abducted. 

A notice from the FBI offering a reward of up to $5 million for information leading to Mark Frerichs' location, recovery, and return. 

A notice from the FBI offering a reward of up to $5 million for information leading to Mark Frerichs’ location, recovery, and return. 
(FBI)

“Threatening the safety of Americans or any innocent civilians is always unacceptable, and hostage-taking is an act of particular cruelty and cowardice,” President Biden said in a statement to mark the second anniversary of the kidnapping. “The Taliban must immediately release Mark before it can expect any consideration of its aspirations for legitimacy. This is not negotiable.”

Frerich’s disappearance has been shrouded in mystery, and the case has been the subject of minimal discussion from the U.S. government. 

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In the days following Frerichs’ capture, Navy commandos raided a village and detained suspected members of the Taliban-linked Haqqani network while the U.S. intelligence community tried to track the cellphones of the man and his captors. 

Frerichs’ sister Charlene Cakora issued a statement saying that her family is “grateful” for Biden’s words, “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. 

President Joe Biden speaks at Atlanta University Center Consortium, Jan. 11, 2022, in Atlanta.

President Joe Biden speaks at Atlanta University Center Consortium, Jan. 11, 2022, in Atlanta.
(AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Biden’s statement on Frerichs came as Afghanistan continued its descent into a humanitarian crisis following the U.S.’s chaotic withdrawal in August. 

The Taliban quickly seized control of much of the country and the foreign aid that had been flowing into the country largely halted, putting at risk the lives of millions of Afghans who could starve or freeze to death.

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The United Nations, meanwhile, has received “credible allegations” that more than 100 former Afghanistan government officials, troops and those who worked with coalition forces have been killed since the Taliban took control – despite assurances from the militant group that these people would remain unharmed. 

Taliban representative Anas Haqqani sits ahead of a meeting, in Oslo, Norway, on Jan. 24. 

Taliban representative Anas Haqqani sits ahead of a meeting, in Oslo, Norway, on Jan. 24. 
(AP/Stian Lysberg Solum/NTB)

The chilling revelations emerged in a report that U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has delivered to the Security Council, according to the Associated Press. 

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“As I appeal to the international community to step up support for the people of Afghanistan, I make an equally urgent plea to the Taliban leadership to recognize and protect the fundamental human rights that every person shares,” Guterres told the U.N. Security Council last week. 

Fox News’ Greg Norman and The Associated Press contributed to this report

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