Guantánamo

Qatar extends travel ban on 5 Taliban traded for U.S. soldier

From top left, four of the five Taliban prisoners who were released to Qatar May 31, 2014: Mohammed Fazl, a former top Taliban military commander, and Khairulla Khairkhwa, a former Taliban governor of Herat. From bottom left, Mullah Norullah Nori and Abdul Haq Wasiq. These photos were taken from their Guantánamo risk assessments provided to McClatchy Newspapers by the anti-secrecy group Wikileaks.
From top left, four of the five Taliban prisoners who were released to Qatar May 31, 2014: Mohammed Fazl, a former top Taliban military commander, and Khairulla Khairkhwa, a former Taliban governor of Herat. From bottom left, Mullah Norullah Nori and Abdul Haq Wasiq. These photos were taken from their Guantánamo risk assessments provided to McClatchy Newspapers by the anti-secrecy group Wikileaks.

Qatar agreed to extend temporarily a travel ban and monitoring of five Taliban prisoners released a year ago from Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, in exchange for a U.S. soldier, a State Department official said Sunday.

The government of Qatar will maintain the travel restrictions and monitoring as talks continue on ways to ensure the five men won’t pose a threat to the U.S., said the official, who provided a statement on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of negotiations.

Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who was held captive by the Taliban in Afghanistan for almost five years after walking away from his Army post, was released in the swap a year ago. Republicans in Congress have continued to criticize the deal as a threat to U.S. security.

The U.S. Army charged Bergdahl in March with desertion and misbehavior before the enemy. While his years in captivity may mitigate any potential punishment, Bergdahl could face a maximum penalty of life in military prison if convicted on the misbehavior charge.

The five Taliban, who are Afghans, were placed under the custody of Qatar for one year as a condition for their release. The year expired on Sunday.

“I want to make sure that they’re not going to be allowed to return to the fight,” CIA Director John Brennan said Sunday on CBS’s “Face the Nation” program.

“So arrangements that could be worked out with the Qataris, with the Afghans, I think we’re trying to still look at what are the possibilities here,” he said.

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