The handover of U.S. soldier Bowe Bergdahl to the American military in eastern Afghanistan was recorded by the Taliban in a video and the footage was released to the media Wednesday.
Check out the video here:
The video first shows Bergdahl wearing traditional Afghan clothes and sitting in a pick-up truck that is surrounded by more than a dozen armed Taliban fighters. Bergdahl is then escorted by two men, one of whom carries a white flag in his hands, when a Black Hawk helicopter arrives at the site and three Western-looking men in civilian clothes lead the 28-year-old soldier to the waiting helicopter. Bergdahl was freed Saturday, after being held in captivity by the Taliban for five years, in exchange for the release of five high-ranking Taliban members from the Guantanamo Bay prison.
"Don't come to Afghanistan again. Next time, nobody will release you," one of the Taliban militant reportedly says in the video.
The Taliban militants are seen covering their faces while Bergdahl has a cloth around his neck. In the video, titled “Ceremony of the American soldier exchange,” a male voice is reportedly heard saying that the exchange took place in Khost province.
"The Americans contacted us and asked us where was a good place to meet. We contacted tribal elders to come and join us, because we do not trust them (Americans)," the voiceover reportedly said. "I congratulate all the mujahideen for this victory."
The prisoner-swap deal between the U.S. and the Taliban, which led to Bergdahl's release, has found many critics in the U.S. and Afghanistan.
Republicans and Afghan intelligence officials have warned that the release of the Taliban prisoners could risk the lives of Americans and others in the future as the men could go on to rejoin the insurgency against the West, while Afghanistan’s government has protested against the transfer of the men to Qatar, which negotiated the deal, stating that the move violated international law, Reuters reported.
"No government can transfer citizens of a country to a third country as prisoners," the Afghan Foreign Affairs Ministry said in a statement Sunday, according to Reuters.
Meanwhile, General Martin Dempsey, a top-ranking U.S. military officer, reportedly said that any misconduct by Bergdahl will not be ignored even as his fellow soldiers have complained that Bergdahl’s actions in Afghanistan, when he walked off his post, put the lives of those who searched for him at risk.