4 Jun 2014

Taliban releases video of Bowe Bergdahl handover

The Taliban publishes footage showing the release of US soldier Bowe Bergdahl. The 28-year-old was handed to US special forces in exchange for five Afghan detainees.

Video: Asia Correspondent John Sparks reports from Doha, Qatar, and Washington Correspondent Kylie Morris is live from the US.

The footage, which was posted on Al-Emara, a Taliban website (see below), could not be independently verified by Channel 4 News.

It showed Mr Bergdahl sitting in a car in the Batai area of Khost, surrounded by Taliban militants, before a US helicopter carried him away.

White flags

The militants were seen shouting “Long live the Mujahideen.” Mr Bergdahl, clean shaven, dressed in a white salwar kameez and with a shaved head, is seen waiting in a white pick-up truck as Taliban militants outside lean in to talk to him.

He appears to blink in the bright light, assenting as they speak.

The Pashto narration on the video said the Americans asked the Taliban where they should meet for the handover and the Taliban told them they could meet wherever the Americans wanted to meet.

A helicopter flew overhead and landed at a distance of about 100 metres from Mr Bergdahl and his captors, who held white flags. The narration in the video said 18 armed militants were in the area on guard as the handover took place and that another helicopter landed on a hill nearby.

Read more: Afghan president angry at US/Taliban prisoner exchange

US military

The narration also said the US military “was in a rush and did not greet (them) properly.”

As one of the helicopters lands throwing up a cloud of dust, Mr Bergdahl is led to his rescuers by two men, one leading him by the hand and another waving a white cloth crudely tied to a wooden stick.

Most of the Taliban have their faces covered with scarves, while Mr Bergdahl wears his over his shoulders.

They are greeted by three men who shake their hands and lead Mr Bergdahl by the arm to the helicopter. The aircraft takes off and the message in English flashes up: “Don’t come back to Afghanistan.”

Mr Bergdahl, held for nearly five years in Afghanistan, was freed last week in a prisoner-swap deal with the Taliban brokered by the Qatari government. Five Taliban militants were released from the US prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and flown to Qatar.