KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — The Taliban said Friday that U.S. Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl was treated well during the five years they held him captive and was even allowed to play soccer with the men holding him.
The spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, told The Associated Press by telephone that Bergdahl was held under "good conditions," and was given fresh fruit and any other foods he requested. "You can ask him in America about his life (in captivity). He will not complain," Mujahid said.
The question of Bergdahl's well-being is part of a fierce debate in Washington over whether the U.S. should have negotiated for his release on Saturday in exchange for five Taliban detainees who had been held at Guantanamo Bay. The Obama administration said it had intelligence
Mujahid's statements could not be verified. Bergdahl, of Hailey, Idaho, was captured after he walked away from his base in June 2009 and U.S. officials believed he was mainly held by the Haqqani network, an insurgent group affiliated with the Taliban, in Pakistan. He was handed over to the U.S. in a remote area of Khost province, near the Pakistani border.
Mujahid said Bergdahl was held in different locations inside Afghanistan, without providing further details. He said the soldier enjoyed playing soccer as well as reading, including English-language books about Islam.
Since Bergdahl's release senior officials, including President Barack Obama, have said the prisoner swap that involved the release of five high-profile Taliban detainees from Guantanamo Bay, and which has caused a furor in the United States, was hastened by concerns the Army sergeant's physical health was deteriorating.