The State Department has welcomed the release of two U.S. nationals from Taliban detention in Afghanistan. The two were en route to Qatar on Tuesday from where they will fly to the U.S. to reunite with their families.
"We are in a position to welcome the release of two Americans, two U.S. nationals, from detention in Afghanistan," Ned Price, a spokesman for the U.S. Department of State, told journalists on Tuesday. "We are providing these two U.S. nationals with all appropriate assistance."
U.S. officials have not yet disclosed the identities of the two individuals.
In August, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) reported that Taliban authorities had detained Ivor Shearer, a U.S. citizen, and his Afghan colleague when they were filming the site of a U.S. drone bombing where al-Qaida leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, was killed.
It is believed that Shearer is one of the two U.S. nationals released by the Taliban. The fate of Shearer’s Afghan colleague is not clear yet.
Price said the release was not a prisoner swap nor was money paid to the Taliban.
“We understand this, or at least the Taliban characterize this to us, as a goodwill gesture,” he said.
The release of the two U.S. nationals was praised on the same day that American officials condemned the Taliban’s announcement banning Afghan women from private and public universities. The Taliban made the announcement on Tuesday.
“The irony of them granting us a goodwill gesture on a day where they undertake a gesture like this to the Afghan people, it's not lost on us,” Price said.