U.S. soldier held in Afghanistan is released

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CNN) — Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, the American soldier held captive for nearly five years by militants during the Afghanistan war, has been released, the White House said Saturday.

“Today the American people are pleased that we will be able to welcome home Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, held captive for nearly five years,” the White House said in a statement.

In a statememt, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel said he had informed Congress of the decision to transfer five detainees from Guantánamo Bay to Qatar.

“A few hours ago, the family of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl was informed by President Obama that their long wait for his return will soon be over,” Hagel said.

“Sgt. Bergdahl is now under the care of the U.S. military after being handed over by his captors in Afghanistan. We will give him all the support he needs to help him recover from this ordeal, and we are grateful that he will soon be reunited with his family.” Hagel said the United States “coordinated closely with Qatar to ensure that security measures are in place and the national security of the United States will not be compromised.”

The White House said, “On behalf of the American people, I was honored to call his parents to express our joy that they can expect his safe return, mindful of their courage and sacrifice throughout this ordeal.”

Bergdahl was deployed to Afghanistan in May 2009 and captured by the Taliban on June 30, 2009, in Paktika province.

In July of that year, a U.S. military official said the soldier was being held by the clan of warlord Siraj Haqqani.