The family of an American citizen taken hostage in Afghanistan more than two years ago welcomed an apparent proof of life video that was published on Friday and called on the Biden administration to take “bold and decisive action” to bring him home.
Mark Frerichs, a veteran and contractor who was kidnapped in Kabul in late January 2020, is believed to be held by the Haqqani network, which is a close affiliate of the Taliban.
On Friday, The New Yorker published a video of Frerichs pleading for his release – the first time the Illinois native has been seen in years.
“I’ve been patiently waiting my release,” Frerichs says in the brief video, which he says is being recorded on November 28, 2021.
“I’d like to ask the leadership of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, please, release me,” he says. “Release me so that I may be reunited with my family.”
The New Yorker article said the video was obtained “from an unidentified individual in Afghanistan.”
In a statement Friday, Frerichs’ sister Charlene Cakora said her family is “grateful to the Taliban for sharing a proof of life video of Mark.”
“This is public confirmation of our family’s long-held belief that he is alive after more than two years in captivity,” she said.
“We consider this to be an important indicator of the Taliban’s interest in seeking to arrange for Mark’s immediate release. President Biden and Secretary Blinken, we urge you to take bold and decisive action to bring Mark home,” Cakora said.
Since her brother’s kidnapping, Cakora has called on the US government to do more to secure his release, escalating those calls in the lead-up to the US withdrawal from Afghanistan.
“We have 150 days to get him home or our leverage is gone,” she said in April 2021, after the withdrawal plan was announced.
On Friday, she said that statements from the US President “are not enough.”
“You have had a way to bring Mark home since you took office. Now we need you to act. Please don’t leave my brother behind,” she said. “It is time to bring home the only American currently held hostage in Afghanistan.”
“Mark, we love you and are doing all we can to bring you home. Please do not lose hope,” Cakora concluded.
CNN has reached out to the State Department for comment. In a statement in January marking two years since Frerichs was taken hostage, spokesperson Ned Price said “the United States has raised Mark’s case in every meeting with the Taliban, and we have been clear that the legitimacy the Taliban seek is impossible to consider while they hold a US citizen hostage.”
“His release is among our core, non-negotiable priorities. We will continue to send a clear message to Taliban leadership: immediately and safely release Mark and disavow the practice of hostage-taking,” Price said.
On Friday, the Biden administration secured the release of Afghan-American Naval reservist Safi Rauf and his brother Anees Khalil, a US green card holder, who had been detained by the Taliban since December.