Taliban reportedly releases two Americans from Afghanistan including filmmaker Ivor Shearer

Filmmaker was arrested in August while filming in Kabul

Josh Marcus
San Francisco
Tuesday 20 December 2022 20:40 GMT
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The Taliban has released two Americans from custody in Afghanistan, CNN reports.

Filmmaker Ivor Shearer and and another individual, whose family asked that their name be kept confidential, are the detainees who have been freed, according to the network, citing multiple unnamed sources familiar with the situation.

The pair arrived in Qatar on Tuesday, The Washington Post reports.

“The United States welcomes the release of two U.S. nationals from detention in Afghanistan,” a senior US official told the Post. “We continue to provide all appropriate assistance. We are glad these US nationals will reunite with their families soon. Out of respect for the privacy of these individuals and their families, we are not going to confirm names.”

Mr Shearer was detained in August in Kabul, alongside Afghan producer Faizullah Faizbakhsh, while working on a documentary about the last 40 years of Afghan history.

The pair were filming in Kabul’s District 10, where a US drone strike killed al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri earlier that month, when a group of around 50 “armed intelligence operatives” arrived, blindfolded the documentarians, held them in detention at an unknown location, and accused them of being “American spies,” according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.

In September, US Navy veterans Mark Frerichs was released from Afghanistan in a prisoner swap for Bashir Noorzai, held for 17 years in Guantanamo Bay for allegedly being a drug lord and senior ally of the Taliban.

Mr Frerichs, who was thought to have been held by the Haqqani Network faction of the Taliban, was in the country working on civil engineering projects, NPR reports.

Three months later, Ameircan WNBA star Brittney Griner was released from Russia in another prisoner swap deal.

Ms Griner, who played in the Russian pro basketball league during the US off season, was arrested in a Moscow airport on February for allegedly possessing a vaporiser cartridge with cannabis oil.

She was later sentenced to nine years in a Russian penal colony.

In early December, she was released in exchange for Viktor, a notorious international arms dealer and alleged Russian intelligence asset.

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