TORONTO – A Canadian man has been freed from captivity in Afghanistan after being taken hostage by the Taliban five years ago, Canada’s foreign minister said Monday.
Colin Rutherford, who was 26-years-old when he was reported missing in February 2011 while visiting the war-torn nation as a tourist, was released with the help of Qatar.
“Canada is very pleased that efforts undertaken to secure the release of Colin Rutherford from captivity have been successful,” Canadian Foreign Minister Stephane Dion said in a statement.
“We look forward to Mr. Rutherford being able to return to Canada and reunite with his family and loved ones,” he added.
The Taliban confirmed his release on “humanitarian grounds” in a brief statement Tuesday, which provided no further details.
The insurgent group had captured Rutherford in the central province of Ghazni, who accused him of being a spy.
In a video released by the militant group in May 2011, Rutherford said he traveled to Afghanistan to see “historical sites, old buildings, shrines.”
A U.S. special forces officer tasked with trying to negotiate the release of American soldier Bowe Bergdahl told a U.S. Senate hearing in June 2015 that the U.S. State Department had rejected a plan that might have also seen Rutherford and others also freed.
During his efforts, Lt. Col. Jason Amerine said he obtained information about Rutherford as well as U.S. national Warren Weinstein and others in captivity.
According to his testimony, Rutherford may have been moved to Pakistan at some point.
Weinstein was killed by mistake in January 2015 in a U.S. drone strike.
Bergdahl, who had been captured by insurgents in Afghanistan in 2009, was released in 2014 as part of a deal that saw several Taliban leaders released from U.S. custody. He has been charged with desertion for leaving his post before being captured.
The announcement of Rutherford’s release comes as Pakistan hosted four-country talks Monday aimed at luring the Afghan Taliban back to the negotiating table with the Kabul government.