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Taliban Release U.S. Soldier Taken Hostage In 2009

Photo caption:

Photo by Reuters/Landov

U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl watches as one of his captors displays his identity tag in the first of several videos of the soldier, in July, 2009.

Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, an American prisoner of war, has been released after almost five years of being held captive by the Afghan Taliban, the White House said on Saturday.

In a statement, President Obama said he was "honored to call his parents to express our joy that they can expect his safe return."

Obama thanked the Amir of Qatar for his help in the negotiations.

"While we are mindful of the challenges, it is our hope Sergeant Bergdahl's recovery could potentially open the door for broader discussions among Afghans about the future of their country by building confidence that it is possible for all sides to find common ground," Obama said.

The United States had in the past tried to broker a deal with the Afghan Taliban that would have freed five Guantanamo prisoners in exchange for the release of Bergdahl.

As we reported, the Taliban broke off those talks in February.

Bergdahl was seized after a guard shift in an outpost in the southeastern Pakkita province on June 30, 2009. He was 23 at the time.

Back in June of 2013, NPR's Melissa Block spoke to Northwest News Network Jessica Robinson, who has followed Bergdahl's case extensively. She had this to say about his background:

BLOCK: Jessica, you have spent time over these years in Hailey, Idaho. What do people there tell you about the kind of young man Bowe Bergdahl is and what his interests have been?ROBINSON: The word that comes to mind is unconventional. Bowe wasn't exactly the typical profile of someone who joins the military. He didn't come from a military family. He grew up down a dirt road in a canyon outside of Hailey, off the grid for part of his growing up. And he seemed to be interested in traveling. He rode his bike long distances.He's described as very adventurous, but at the same time, also very quiet and thoughtful.BLOCK: And also, I've read he was a ballet dancer.ROBINSON: He was a ballet dancer. I believe he danced in "The Nutcracker" and two years ago, when I first came to Hailey to talk to people who know him, they were very reluctant to say much about him. I reached out to his dance teacher and she declined to comment because at that point, people in Hailey knew that anything they said could be possibly used against him. And they were reluctant to put it out there that he had danced because they didn't know how that would make him perceived by his captors.Since then, Hailey has opened up a lot and they've followed the lead of the parents, who have been talking more about their son and trying to get his name out there more.

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