Kidnapped US professor Kevin King is expected to be one of two hostages released as part of a prisoner exchange with the Taliban, the Afghan government revealed Tuesday.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani revealed in a televised press event that he had released three Taliban prisoners “conditionally in exchange” for King, 63, and his Australian colleague Timothy Weekes, 50.
The pair were both abducted in 2016 outside the American University in Kabul where they are teachers
The following year, the terror group released two videos showing the captives looking pale and gaunt and appealing for help to be set free.
US officials later launched a rescue mission but failed to find them at the raided location.
There was no immediate statement from the Taliban or any indication when they would release the captive American and Australian.
“We have decided to release these three Taliban prisoners who were arrested outside of Afghanistan,” Ghani said at a press event, adding that it was meant “to facilitate direct peace negotiations.”
Ghani said the release of the teachers was “part of our main demands during the indirect negotiations with the Taliban.”
“We can assure the families of both teachers that we welcome and honor those who come to our country to pursue education,” Ghani said.
In a statement, the American University of Afghanistan said it welcomed the development and was “encouraged to hear reports of the possible release of our two colleagues.”
The three Taliban prisoners released include Anas Haqqani, the younger brother of Sirajuddin, the deputy head of the Taliban and leader of the strongest Taliban faction, the Haqqani network. The other two released, Haji Mali Khan and Hafiz Rashid, are part of the same network.
The Afghan president didn’t elaborate or say when or where the three were released. They were most likely sent to Qatar, where the Taliban maintain a political office.
With Post wires
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