Case of kidnapped American Mark Frerichs will weigh on Taliban's legitimacy -U.S. official

·1-min read
FILE PHOTO: Taliban fighters train with their weapons in an undisclosed location in Afghanistan

By Simon Lewis

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States has pressed the Taliban to return Mark Frerichs, an American kidnapped in Afghanistan, and his case will weigh on the legitimacy of any future Taliban-led government, a senior U.S. official said on Wednesday.

Frerichs' family had visited the State Department this week to discuss his case, the official said, after the Taliban took control of the Afghan capital Kabul on Sunday amid an evacuation of U.S. citizens, Western diplomats and their Afghan allies.

Frerichs, who worked in Afghanistan on construction projects and was abducted in early February 2020, is believed to have been held in Taliban custody, the official said. The State Department last year offered a reward of up to $5 million for information in his case.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Frerichs' case had been repeatedly raised by U.S. negotiators during talks with the Taliban in Doha, and Washington would consider whether the group had respected the international norm against hostage-taking when deciding whether to recognize a future government.

"It would be hard for us to have a normal relationship with any government that is holding someone in this way," the official said of Frerichs' detention.

(Reporting by Simon Lewis in Washington; Editing by Matthew Lewis)

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