Mark Frerichs, 59, has been isolated in the mountains of Afghanistan since before the pandemic.
Kidnapped in Kabul by the Haqqani Network, a close arm of the Taliban, Frerichs remains the only American hostage in Taliban custody.
U.S. and Taliban officials have been negotiating for his release for more than a year. The Taliban wants to trade Frerichs for an Afghan drug dealer who’s been imprisoned in the U.S. on heroin charges since 2005.
Frerichs’ family says no progress has been made in a statement released this week.
“We trusted the Trump Administration and they did nothing,” the statement read. “We had high hopes for the Biden Administration, but they too have repeatedly put other issues ahead of Mark’s safe return.”
On Sunday, the White House released a statement from President Joe Biden, saying, “Threatening the safety of Americans or any innocent civilians is always unacceptable, and hostage-taking is an act of particular cruelty and cowardice,” Biden said in a statement to mark the second anniversary of the kidnapping on Monday. “The Taliban must immediately release Mark before it can expect any consideration of its aspirations for legitimacy. This is not negotiable.”
In response, Mark’s sister Charlene said, “What we really want is to have Mark home. We know the President has options in front of him to make that happen and hope Mark’s safe return will become a priority for him personally.”
In a pointed op-ed this week in the Washington Post, his family pleaded with the Biden administration to do something. They say they’re jaded, losing hope that the U.S. government even cares.
The U.S. Department of State says it’s doing all it can, however, writing: “The United States has raised Mark’s case in every meeting with the Taliban, and we have been clear that the legitimacy the Taliban seek is impossible to consider while they hold a U.S. citizen hostage. His release is among our core, non-negotiable priorities.”
The family says they believe the government could be stalling because they are concerned about mid-term elections. The family said they don’t want the saga to become a political issue.