While no further details on the release were made public, reports have confirmed the identity of one of the Americans released.
Washington has pointed towards Qatar for helping secure the release of Americans from Afghanistan on Wednesday, describing the Gulf state as a steadfast partner.
US National Security Advisor to President Joe Biden, Jake Sullivan, confirmed the release of the American citizens in a statement on Twitter.
“We are grateful for the Government of Qatar’s efforts in securing the release of US nationals from Afghanistan. Qatar remains a steadfast partner to the United States in our mutual efforts in Afghanistan. I thank HH [Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani] for his personal leadership,” Sullivan said.
While both Sullivan and Qatar have not disclosed details on the former detainees, CNN first reported two Americans who were held by the Taliban have been released.
Citing three sources privy to the matter, the American news outlet confirmed that one of the US nationals is filmmaker Ivor Shearer, who was detained in August while filming in Kabul. The filmmaker was reportedly shooting while on location where a US drone strike killed Al Qaeda leader Ayman Al-Zawahiri in August.
Shearer was arrested along with his Afghan producer Faizullah Faizbakhsh, whose status remains unclear.
CNN said it withhold the name of the second US citizen at their family’s request.
“The United States welcomes the release of two US nationals from detention in Afghanistan. We continue to provide all appropriate assistance. We are glad these US nationals will reunite with their families soon,” a senior US administration official told CNN.
Meanwhile, a source confirmed to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) that Shearer arrived in Doha on Tuesday and was in healthy condition.
“The release of journalist Ivor Shearer is a small relief after four months of unjust and arbitrary detention, and we call on the Taliban to immediately release all other journalists who are being held,” CPJ Asia Program Coordinator Beh Lih Yi said.
Shearer and Faizbakhsh were both questioned about their activities by the Taliban and were asked to present their work permits, ID cards and passports. Their phones were confiscated and they were called “American spies”, per a CPJ statement.
Prisoner release efforts
The latest successful prisoner release by Qatar came just months after Doha helped release US national Mark Frerichs after more than two years of captivity.
“We are particularly grateful for Qatar’s assistance in this and, frankly, many other matters,” a senior White House official said at the time of Frerichs’s release in September.
In April, Qatar helped facilitate the release of US aid worker Safi Rauf and his brother, Anees Khalil, a British citizen, from the Taliban’s custody.
The siblings had been held by the Taliban since 18 December after they were arrested whilst conducting licensed humanitarian work in Afghanistan. Rauf, 27, is a former Afghan refugee who joined the US Navy Reserves, as well as the founder of the Human First Coalition, alongside his brother.
Meanwhile in November last year, Qatar helped release seven Turkish civilians who were held by Libya’s Khalifa Haftar’s forces for two years.
Turkey’s National Intelligence Organisation (MIT) and Ankara’s foreign ministry had worked with Qatari intelligence to ensure the safe release and return of the ex-detainees.
During the same month, Qatar helped facilitate the release of American journalist Danny Fenster from Myanmar’s prison after being sentenced to 11 years for incitement.