Real life Homeland: Parents of US soldier held hostage by Taliban break their silence
THE parents of an American soldier held captive by a Taliban faction for nearly three years have spoken of their frustration that Barack Obama has failed to contact them and talks to release him have stalled.
In a situation reminiscent of the Emmy award winning TV series Homeland, Sgt Bowe Bergdahl is believed to be held by the Haqqani network of militants in Pakistan’s tribal border regions after he was captured in south eastern Afghanistan in 2009.
His parents confirmed Sgt Bergdahl had been the focus of talks between Mr Obama’s government and the Taliban over a prisoner swap.
The swap, billed as a confidence-building measure to give momentum to tentative peace talks, would also have seen Sgt Bergdahl released in exchange for five Taliban leaders from Guantanamo Bay.
However Sgt Bergdahl’s family said they believed the talks had stalled because of opposition in Congress to any concessions to the Taliban.
Robert Bergdahl and his wife, Jani, of Hailey in Idaho, told the New York Times they were upset they had not heard from Mr Obama during their son’s captivity.
Mrs Bergdahl told the newspaper: “He has never contacted us. We haven’t gotten a Hallmark card, we haven’t gotten a note signed by an aide, nothing. Is it because he thinks we’re not Democrats?”
The family have resorted to trying to contact the Taliban themselves after losing faith in the government’s ability to gain freedom for their son.
Sgt Bergdahl is believed to be the only American serviceman held by the Taliban and he has been seen in a series of hostage videos since he was captured in Paktika province, near the border with Pakistan.
Reports at the time said he had seemingly walked off his base when he was captured, though the Taliban later said he had lagged behind on a patrol.
Officials from Mr Obama’s administration said they shared the family’s frustration.
Col David Lapan, spokesman for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said: “If they’re angry and/or frustrated, that’s certainly understandable.”
“I would say our leaders are frustrated as well.”