Afghan government will release three high-ranking Taliban figures in exchange for American and Australian professors kidnapped nearly three years ago, President Ashraf Ghani’s office announced on Tuesday.
The two men – an American identified as Kevin King and an Australian identified as Timothy Weekes – were abducted in the capital, Kabul, outside the American University in 2016.
“We have decided to conditionally release three Taliban prisoners who were arrested outside the country with the help of our international partners and have been in Bagram prison in the custody of the Afghan government for some time,” the Afghan president said.
Ghani said at a press event broadcast live on state television that the release of the Taliban fighters linked to the Haqqani network was very hard decision made in the “interest of the Afghan people”.
The Afghan president said that the three Taliban leaders – Anas Haqqani, Haji Mali Khan and Hafiz Rashid – are being released “conditionally in exchange” for the two professors. He did not elaborate.