Taliban leaders searched their ranks, including in the much-feared Haqqani network, and on Sunday told The Associated Press they are not holding Mark R. Frerichs, a Navy veteran turned contractor who disappeared in Afghanistan in late January.
“We don’t have any information about the missing American,” Sohail Shaheen, the Taliban’s political spokesman, told the AP.
A second Taliban official familiar with the talks with the United States said “formally and informally” the Taliban have notified U.S. officials they are not holding Frerichs. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.
Washington’s peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad, who negotiated a peace deal with the Taliban signed in February to allow America and NATO countries to withdraw their troops and end decades of war, asked for Frierchs’ release during his meetings this week in Qatar, where the Taliban maintain a political office.