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Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Taliban leader Noorzai released in prisoner swap deal

Bashir Noorzai, an Afghan tribal leader, was arrested in 2005 and charged with smuggling more than $50 million worth of heroin into the United States.

A senior Taliban figure, Haji Bashir Noorzai, has been released after decades of detention by the United States and arrived in Kabul on Monday, a Taliban spokesperson said.

Afghan state media reports said he had been among the last Afghans held at Guantanamo Bay detention camp.

“Honorable Haji Bashir was released after two decades of imprisonment and arrived in Kabul today,” said Mohammad Naeem, a Taliban spokesperson based in Doha, in a Tweet.

Bashir Noorzai, an Afghan tribal leader, was arrested in 2005 and charged with smuggling more than $50 million worth of heroin into the United States.

An Afghan tribal leader convicted in an international narcotics trafficking conspiracy was sentenced to life in prison by a judge in New York who rejected pleas for leniency based on the man’s cooperation with the American authorities.

The tribal leader, Haji Bashir Noorzai, whose case drew wide attention because of his prominent role in the drug trade and his ties to Mullah Mohammad Omar, the fugitive leader of the Taliban, was found guilty last fall of taking part in a conspiracy that sent millions of dollars’ worth of heroin around the world, including into the United States.

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Noorzai’s lawyer later denied his client was a drug dealer and argued the charges should be dismissed because U.S. government officials duped him into believing he would not be arrested.

Reuters with additional input by GVS News Desk