May 20, 2021

During SASC Hearing, Duckworth Secures Commitment from DoD Official to Pursue Safe Return of Illinoisan Kidnapped in Afghanistan


[WASHINGTON, D.C.] — During a U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) hearing today about the transition of troops out of Afghanistan, combat Veteran and U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) discussed her concern for the safe return of Mark Frerichs, a Veteran of the U.S. Navy who was abducted in Kabul in early 2020. As the administration prepares to withdraw our forces by September 11th, Duckworth expressed concern that a complete troop withdrawal will likely make it harder to subsequently secure Frerichs’ release and asserted that the administration must pursue all options to bring Frerichs home before fully withdrawing. During her questioning, she secured commitment from Mr. David F. Helvey, Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense for Indo-Pacific Security Affairs, to pursue opportunities to advocate for Frerichs’ safe return. Duckworth served in the Reserve Forces for 23 years and is Chair of the SASC Airland Subcommittee. Video of the Senator’s remarks can be found here.

“I have repeatedly raised Mr. Frerichs’ case with members of this administration and to President Biden, himself,” said Duckworth. “Everyone has assured me that they are aware of Mr. Frerichs and are raising his status in ongoing diplomatic negotiations with the Taliban. […] Withdrawing our troops from Afghanistan without securing the safe return of my constituent, Mark Frerichs, would be an abject failure of the United States Government to rescue an American citizen and Illinoisan who served his country in uniform. Now is the time to redouble our efforts to make sure we secure Mr. Frerichs’ safe release and bring him home.”

Earlier this year, Duckworth and U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) wrote letters to President Biden and Secretary of State Blinken requesting that the administration prioritizes bringing Mark, and other American hostages like him, home safely. In November 2020, Duckworth similarly urged the previous administration to secure the safe return of Mark Frerichs and hostages like him in Afghanistan.