Kabul: The Taliban have released two Americans that had been in detention in Afghanistan, the state department said on Tuesday – the same day that they faced condemnation for banning women at universities.
“This, we understand, to have been a goodwill gesture on the part of the Taliban. This was not part of any swap of prisoners or detainees. There was no money that exchanged hands,” state department spokesman Ned Price told reporters.
The two Americans released had arrived in Qatar on Tuesday, The Washington Post reported, citing diplomats familiar with the matter.
The identities of the two nationals were not disclosed. Price said that confidentiality rules forbade him from offering more details on the two Americans.
According to CNN one of the Americans is filmmaker Ivor Shearer, who was arrested along with his Afghan producer, Faizullah Faizbakhsh, in August this year while filming in Kabul. He was filming where a US drone had killed al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri.
Speaking at a daily press briefing, Price said Washington was continuing to raise with the Taliban the need to release any US nationals still held in Afghanistan, but declined to provide who they may be and how many people may be held there.
On Tuesday, Afghanistan’s higher education ministry said that female students would not be allowed access to the country’s universities until further notice.
The announcement came as the United Nations Security Council met in New York on Afghanistan. The United States and British UN envoys condemned the move during the council meeting.