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The Americans Left Behind after Bergdahl Exchange


Though Army sergeant Bowe Bergdahl has safely returned from captivity a number of other Americans remain hostages in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and their family members have expressed anger and sadness that they were not included in the Bergdahl deal.

Warren Weinstein, 72, was abducted in 2011 in Lahore, Pakistan, where he had worked as a development officer. His wife, Elaine Weinstein, shared her disappointment with the Bergdahl swap, which an Obama-administration official informed her about. She told the New York Times, “I thought that if they were going to exchange prisoners, and take that step, that my husband would be included.”

According to his daughter Alisa, Weinstein has a serious heart condition and severe asthma, and the family does not know whether or not he is getting his medication. His failing health was apparent in a video the government obtained in December, she explained. “If the window was closing for Sergeant Bergdahl, the window is closing for my father,” she said.

Also held captive by militants in the region are American Caitlin Coleman, her Canadian husband Josh Boyle, and their child. The couple disappeared in Afghanistan when Coleman was pregnant. Last year, they sent a video to their families at home, in which Coleman asked, “I would ask that my family and government do everything that they can to bring my husband, child and I to safety and freedom.”

A White House official explained that not all kidnappings can be managed simultaneously, and that these were different situations from Bergdahl’s captivity. “This was a swap with the Taliban for an American serviceman they had in captivity during a war,” he told the New York Times. “It’s separate from the very serious efforts we undertake to return other American civilians home to their families.”

But the families of the hostages remain severely disappointed. “It would be no more appropriate to have our government turn their backs on their citizens than to turn their backs on those who serve,” Boyle’s father told the Associated Press.

“Five prisoners for one hostage is not a very good deal when there are other hostages out there,” Mrs. Weinstein said. “Every American deserves the same treatment.”

(See this New York Times article for more)

Tags: Bowe Bergdahl


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