KABUL - The Taliban released a video Friday of an American soldier captured in Afghanistan, showing him apparently healthy but spouting criticism about the U.S. military operation. In Idaho, Pfc. Bowe Bergdahl's family pleaded on Christmas Day for his release and urged him to "stay strong."
Bergdahl disappeared June 30 while based in eastern Afghanistan and is the only known American serviceman in captivity. The Taliban claimed his capture in a video released in mid-July that showed the young Idaho soldier appearing downcast and frightened. He hadn't been heard from until Friday's video, in which he looks well and speaks clearly.
The NATO-led International Security Assistance Force confirmed hours later that the man in the video was Bergdahl, but denounced both its timing and content.
"This is a horrible act which exploits a young soldier, who was clearly compelled to read a prepared statement," said a statement from U.S. Navy Rear Admiral Gregory Smith, ISAF's spokesman. "To release this video on Christmas Day is an affront to the deeply concerned family and friends of Bowe Bergdahl, demonstrating contempt for religious traditions and the teachings of Islam."
Lt. Col. Tim Marsano of the Idaho National Guard issued a statement Friday from the family of Bergdahl, who live outside Hailey, Idaho. In their statement, the family urged the captors "to let our only son come home."
And to their son, the family said, "We love you and we believe in you. Stay strong."