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Taliban Releases Last American Hostage

Kevin King, Australian Timothy Weeks flown to US air base in Afghanistan
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 19, 2019 6:26 AM CST
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This two photo combination image shows kidnapped teachers Australian Timothy Weekes, top, and American Kevin King.   (EL-EMARA Taliban via AP, File)

(Newser) – The last known American to be held by the Taliban is free. Kevin King and Australian Timothy Weeks, professors kidnapped at gunpoint while leaving the American University of Afghanistan in Kabul in August 2016, were released to US forces in Afghanistan on Tuesday in exchange for three Taliban commanders who were released from prison and flown to Qatar, reports the BBC. The Taliban confirmed custody of the men in Doha, where it operates a political office, following the release of the Westerners, who appeared in good health, per the New York Times. The swap, which Afghan President Ashraf Ghani announced last week as a means to foster peace negotiations, had been delayed after two attacks within 24 hours.

A 48-hour ceasefire was observed before King, 63, and Weeks, 50, were turned over in the Nawbahar district of Zabul province, per the BBC. They then boarded a US helicopter that took them to Bagram Air Base in northern Afghanistan, the Times reports, citing a senior Trump administration official. "We are so happy to hear that my brother has been freed and is on his way home to us," King's sister, Stephanie Miller, says in a statement, per the Times. The American University of Afghanistan says it "shares the relief of the families of Kevin and Timothy, and we look forward to providing all the support we can." Ten members of the Afghan security forces were also to be freed by the Taliban as part of the deal. It's unclear at this time if they have also been released. (Read more Taliban stories.)

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