On May 31, 2014 Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel made the following statement:
“A few hours ago, the family of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl was informed by President Obama that their long wait for his return will soon be over. Sgt. Bergdahl is now under the care of the U.S. military after being handed over by his captors in Afghanistan. We will give him all the support he needs to help him recover from this ordeal, and we are grateful that he will soon be reunited with his family.
Also today, I informed Congress of the decision to transfer five detainees from Guantánamo Bay to Qatar. The United States has coordinated closely with Qatar to ensure that security measures are in place and the national security of the United States will not be compromised. I appreciate the efforts of the Emir of Qatar to put these measures in place, and I want to thank him for his instrumental role in facilitating the return of Sgt. Bergdahl.
Sgt. Bergdahl’s return is a powerful reminder of the enduring, sacred commitment our nation makes to all those who serve in uniform. The United States government never forgot Sgt. Bergdahl, nor did we stop working to bring him back. I am grateful to all the military and civilian professionals from DOD and our interagency partners who helped make this moment possible, and to all those Americans who stood vigil with the Bergdahl family.”
Those traded for Sgt Bergdahl included some of the most dangerous high level Taliban detainees held at the time at the prison at Guantanamo Bay Cuba:
Khirullah Said Wali Khairkhwa – a former Taliban minister of the interior and top level militarycommander.
Mullah Norullah Noori – a senior Taliban commander in Mazar-e-Sharif and previously was a Taliban governor in two provinces in northern Afghanistan.
Abdul Haq Wasiq – Taliban deputy minister of intelligence.
Mohammad Nabi Omari – a top level chief of security for the Taliban in Qalat, the capital of the southern province of Zabul.
Mullah Mohammad Fazl – a former Taliban chief of army staff and the deputy minister of defense.
This deal has apparently been in the offing for some time now (see video posted 11 months ago : Taliban offer to Hand offer US captives for 5 Taliban detainees http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4sppfTmddRQ).
See also video: US Pow release in deal with Taliban (source: 1 day ago http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sWe4h4b-rj4
I should mention that President Karzai of Afghanistan was “pissed” that he had not been told of the talks in advance, and demanded that the Taliban operatives be returned to Afghanistan rather than Qatar. That of course didn’t happen.