WASHINGTON - An American soldier who has been held by the Taliban in Afghanistan for nearly five years has been freed in deal that includes the release of five Afghan detainees, US officials said Saturday.
The soldier , US Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, was handed over to US forces in good health, the officials said.
The five Afghan detainees have been released from the US prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. They were handed over to Qatar, which mediated the transfer.
US President Barack Obama thanked Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani for his commitment to the mediation between the US and the Taliban .
The 28-year-old Bergdahl - captured by the Taliban on June 30, 2009 - was handed to US troops by the Taliban on Saturday evening in an area of eastern Afghanistan, near the Pakistan border.
Sgt Bergdahl was the only US soldier being held by the Taliban in Afghanistan.
In a statement, President Obama said: "Today the American people are pleased that we will be able to welcome home Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, held captive for nearly five years.
"On behalf of the American people, I was honoured to call his parents to express our joy that they can expect his safe return, mindful of their courage and sacrifice throughout this ordeal.
"For his assistance in helping to secure our soldier 's return, I extend my deepest appreciation to the Emir of Qatar.
"The Emir’s personal commitment to this effort is a testament to the partnership between our two countries."
AFP adds: Obama's announcement came as Pentagon chief Chuck Hagel released a statement saying he had informed the US Congress of a decision to transfer five Guantanamo detainees to Qatar.
Since his capture, Bergdahl has appeared in several Taliban videos.
In January, the United States obtained a "proof of life" video of the soldier - the first concrete evidence in more than three years that he was still alive.
Secretary of State John Kerry meanwhile said he had spoken with Afghan President Hamid Karzai to brief him on the development.