‘I know that you would not leave an American citizen behind, so please, I beg you, do everything you can to get my brother home,’ sister tells president in emotional interview
“I don’t think anybody can come home with their head held high until every stone has been turned,”Sy told ABC News.
US Navy veteran Mark Frerichs, 58, was abducted by the Taliban in January 2020. Officials and family members have said he was tricked into thinking he was going into a business meeting when he was taken.
Mr Frerichs’ sister, Charlene Cakora, told ABC News that “it is almost too late now” to hold out hope for a negotiation or rescue mission to take place as the US military is about to leave.
In an emotional interview at her home in the outskirts of Chicago, she spoke directly to Mr Biden, sê: “President Biden, oh, please do everything you can to bring my brother home.”
“You have the power to bring my brother home, please get my brother home safely. We are relying on you,” Ms Cakora said with tears in her eyes.
“He’s a good man. He deserves better. He does not deserve to be left behind. He’s an American citizen. And I know that you would not leave an American citizen behind, so please, I beg you, do everything you can to get my brother home.”
Ms Cakora has not spoken to either Mr Biden or former President Donald Trump, who was in office for the first year that Mr Frerichs spent in captivity.
Die wit Huis said on Friday that they are working on freeing Americans in captivity, but didn’t specifically mention Mr Frerichs.
“The president’s message is that he will continue to fight every day of his presidency to bring Americans home who are detained overseas, whether it’s in Afghanistan or any other country around the world,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki gesê.
“We will have a diplomatic presence on the ground. We will continue to work closely with the government, with security support, humanitarian support, and there needs to be continued, a continued political process, ongoing negotiations.”
With the US military moving out after almost 20 years in Afghanistan, Ms Cakora said she, along with her husband Chris, feel like “our leverage is pretty much gone right now”.
“We can’t lose hope and we have to be strong for Mark, but it’s hard,”Het sy bygevoeg.
“I try not to watch the news too much … But it’s been really tough the past month due to the fact that our troops are coming home.”
US officials and sources close to the family have confirmed that Mr Frerichs is being held by a section of the Taliban called the Haqqani network. They’re known for capturing Westerners and holding them in Pakistan’s tribal areas.
US diplomats have approached the Pakistani government in recent weeks. Its intelligence services has a relationship with the Haqqani network going back decades.
The Pakistani government told ABC News last week that there’s “no evidence” that Mr Frerichs is being held in their country, but said they would aid the efforts to get him home.
His family say they’re frustrated that it took so long, almost a year and a half, for US diplomats to engage Pakistani officials.
Ms Cakora said US Special Envoy Zalmay Khalilzad told her that Taliban leaders have admitted to him that they were holding Mr Frerichs and that they had made sure he received medical care.
'[Khalilzad] said that he is healthy and well,” Ms Cakora told ABC News about her brother. “And that’s pretty much it – he’s healthy and well and he has had some high blood pressure issues, and so he’s seeing the doctor for that, he’s taken medication for that.”
“In my meetings with the Taliban, I have demanded his release,” Mr Khalilzad said before the House Foreign Affairs Committee on 18 Mei.
“I just want to tell anybody, the people who are holding Mark, I just want to let you know that Mark’s my brother and I want him home safe,” Ms Cakora said. “And wouldn’t you want your brother home if you were in the same situation?”
She said the Biden administration should do whatever it takes to bring Mr Frerichs home.
“I think I feel that if they leave a man behind that served this country for six years, I would think that, how could they sleep at night, jy weet? I mean, how are they sleeping at night knowing that they left a US citizen behind – a US veteran?”Het sy bygevoeg. “They’re pretty cold if they’re not doing their job, because that’s their job.”