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Taliban says captured U.S. soldier was treated well

By Amir Shah

Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 07:05 a.m. HST, Jun 06, 2014

KABUL, Afghanistan >> The Taliban said Friday that U.S. Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl was treated well during the five years they held him captive and was even allowed to play soccer with the men holding him.

Zabihullah Mujahid, a spokesman for the Taliban in eastern Afghanistan, told The Associated Press by telephone that Bergdahl was held under "good conditions," and was given fresh fruit and any other foods he requested. "You can ask him in America about his life (in captivity). He will not complain," Mujahid said.

The question of Bergdahl's well-being is part of a fierce debate in Washington over whether the U.S. should have negotiated for his release on Saturday in exchange for five Taliban detainees who had been held at Guantanamo Bay.

Mujahid's statements could not be verified. Bergdahl, of Hailey, Idaho, was captured after he walked away from his base in June 2009 and U.S. officials believed he was mainly held by the Haqqani network, an insurgent group affiliated with the Taliban, in Pakistan. He was handed over to the U.S. in a remote area of Khost province, near the Pakistani border.

Mujahid said Bergdahl was held in different locations inside Afghanistan, without providing further details. He said the soldier enjoyed playing soccer as well as reading, including English-language books about Islam.

Since Bergdahl's release senior officials, including President Barack Obama, have said the prisoner swap that involved the release of five high-profile Taliban detainees from Guantanamo Bay, and which has caused a furor in the United States, was hastened by concerns the Army sergeant's physical health was deteriorating.

But the Obama administration later told senators it did not notify Congress about the pending swap because of intelligence the Taliban might kill Bergdahl if the deal was made public, congressional and administration officials said Thursday.

Mujahid said he could not immediately comment on whether the Taliban had threatened to kill Bergdahl, who is currently recovering at a military hospital in Germany.

Several administration and congressional officials said a December video shown to senators in a briefing portrayed Bergdahl's health as in decline but not so desperately that he required an emergency rescue. An assessment by U.S. intelligence agencies about the video in January came to the same conclusion, said two congressional officials familiar with it. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to comment publicly.

Taliban fighters freed Bergdahl Saturday and turned him over to a U.S. special operations team in eastern Afghanistan. Under the deal, five Taliban militants were released from Guantanamo and flown to Qatar, where they are to remain for a year under conditions that have not been spelled out in public.

A federal law requires Congress to be told 30 days before a prisoner is released from Guantanamo, but Obama administration officials said it did not apply in what they deemed an emergency situation.

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Maneki_Neko wrote:
Of course we treated the 5 terrorists much better with free healthcare, culturally appropriate foods, freedom of religious practice, clean facilities with fresh linens and decent treatment.

Then we release them to go back and kill more Americans.

on June 6,2014 | 07:25AM
HIE wrote:
Well, they hate Americans specifically because of Americans like you...so, really, you -- and people like you -- are part of the reason other Americans are killed by terrorists. Congratulate yourself for being part of the problem, not the solution.
on June 6,2014 | 07:54AM
Morimoto wrote:
Your blind patriotism is full of rhetoric and just makes you look ignorant with zero perspective. We (America) are holding prisoners without charges indefinitely, torturing and humiliating them, sometimes out of pure sadism. Don't pretend that staying at a U.S. prison is like a vacation, ever heard of Abu Ghraib, CIA black sites, Guantanamo? Prisoners there have don't even have the rights of POWs even though they were captured during the "war on terror". Who cares if they kill Americans? Americans kill others all the time. It's the Americans who are halfway around the world fighting a war they have no business fighting so if they die, they got what's coming to them.
on June 6,2014 | 08:43AM
AhiPoke wrote:
Obama's spin machine is more impressive than his presidency. I'm amazed that people still believe what comes out of his mouth. His current story makes no sense. Why would the Taliban kill Bergdahl who represented an asset that they could/did trade for five senior comrades. As for his health, he certainly doesn't look sickly to me. I find the Taliban's statement that "they treated him well" more believeable than obama's.
on June 6,2014 | 07:28AM
HIE wrote:
Do you even read what you write? The Taliban may have been ready to kill Bergdahl, specifically because it started to seem unlikely that they could trade him for anything. Which is why we made the trade. It had been 5 years or so. We're pulling more and more assets out of the country. So, the Taliban were likely thinking the window for trade was closing. Without that window, Bergdahl was worthless to them, except perhaps to video his execution and share it as a warning.
on June 6,2014 | 07:50AM
AhiPoke wrote:
I'm wondering if you read what you write. Where does it state anything about the Taliban being ready to kill Bergdahl because time was running out on a trade? Did you make this up in order to defend obama?
on June 6,2014 | 08:08AM
HIE wrote:
Read the declassified CIA intelligence reports. Yes, time was running out.
on June 6,2014 | 11:36AM
etalavera wrote:
They going to hold him and wait for 5 years then kill him? Makes sense...LOL
on June 6,2014 | 09:25AM
cojef wrote:
IRT to HIE, the original negotiation was about money from the terrorist side, thus Bergdahl represented money.
on June 6,2014 | 10:02AM
HIE wrote:
It does. You hold a hostage for a period of time, but you don't hold them forever. A hostage is a net negative cost if you hold them indefinitely and get nothing for it. Better to hold them for a while and press for a deal. If no deal comes, then the hostage is better used as a propaganda video.
on June 6,2014 | 11:38AM
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