Bergdahl Freed, What About Other Americans Held Abroad?

PHOTO: This frame grab from video provided by the Coleman family to the Associated Press shows Caitlan Coleman and Joshua Boyle.
Coleman Family/AP Photo

After the controversial release of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl from Taliban captivity, another American family has stepped from relative secrecy to call on officials to bring its loved ones -- including a newborn baby – home from the clutches of the same militant group.

Today the family of American Caitlin Coleman publicized two videos, in one of which Coleman says she and her Canadian husband, Joshua Boyle, are “prisoner[s] of the Taliban.”

“I would ask that my family and my government do everything they can to bring my husband, my child and I to safety and freedom,” Coleman says in the video, which was first reported by The Associated Press.

White House: Yes, The Taliban Is a Terrorist Organization

What the Taliban's Bergdahl Exchange Video Reveals

Vets Accuse Bowe Bergdahl of Walking Away

The couple disappeared while traveling through Afghanistan nearly two years ago while when Coleman was pregnant. She has since had the child in captivity, the AP reported.

The videos reportedly were first emailed to Coleman’s father last July and September by an Afghan man who, as the AP put it, “identified himself as having ties to the Taliban.”

In an apparent reference to Bergdahl’s recent release, Patrick Boyle, a Canadian judge and father to Joshua, told the AP, “It would be no more appropriate to have our government turn their backs on citizens than to turn their backs on those who serve.”

By stepping forward, the Colemans and the Boyles join a desperate group of American families who have loved ones in captivity the world over, who have been waiting – sometimes for years – for their own American rescue.

CLICK HERE to learn more about the Bergdahl rescue, HERE for more on the Coleman case, and flip through the pages of this report for more on other cases of high-profile Americans being held hostage or in detention abroad. If you have information on any of these or other cases, tell the Investigative Unit by CLICKING HERE.

ABC News’ Dana Hughes contributed to this report.

PHOTO: Retired-FBI agent Robert Levinson in a photo the family received in April 2011.
Levinson Family/AP Photo
Robert Levinson, Former FBI Agent, Kidnapped in Iran

Earlier this year Robert Levinson, a 66-year-old former FBI agent, recently broke a record no one wants to break: He became the American held abroad for the longest time, now more than seven years.

Levinson disappeared from Iran’s Kish Island in 2007. While it’s unclear who originally grabbed Levinson, U.S. officials have said they suspect that the Iranian government at the very least knows where he is. The Iranians, for their part, have offered to help find the former FBI agent.

Levinson’s presence in Kish was something of a mystery until last December, when his family acknowledged that he was involved as a private contractor in a mission for what turned out to be rogue elements of the CIA.

READ MORE: Family of Robert Levinson Says He Was Spying for the CIA

PHOTO: Former U.S. Marine Amir Hekmati is shown in this undated photo.
Hekmati Family via
Amir Hekmati, Former US Marine, Detained in Iran

Amir Hekmati was not kidnapped, but arrested in Iran in the fall of 2011 and appeared on Iranian state television weeks later “confessing” to being a spy for the CIA – a charge both his family and the U.S. government strongly deny. Hekmati’s family said he was traveling to Tehran to visit his grandmothers.

"My son is no spy. He is innocent. He's a good fellow, a good citizen, a good man," said Ali Hekmati, Amir’s father, told ABC News shortly after the broadcast. "I am absolutely afraid to death... I don't know what they're going to do with him."

Military records provided by the Marines show the Arizona-born Hekmati joined the service in 2001 after high school and served as a rifleman until he completed his service in 2005. The records show he never received military intelligence training, despite Iranian allegations otherwise.

An Iranian court initially sentenced Hekmati to death, but that decision was later overturned. Since, Hekmati’s fate has been in limbo. He has been held in prison for more than 1,000 days.

READ MORE: Father of American ‘Spy’ Calls Iranian Claims ‘Bunch of Lies’

Saeed Abedini, American Preacher, Detained in Iran

In December, the wife of American preacher Saeed Abedini, 33, challenged President Obama over Iran and his detention there.

“My husband is suffering because he is a Christian. He’s suffering because he’s an American… Yet his own government did not fight for him when his captors were across the table,” Naghmeh Abedini said then, referring to nuclear negotiations held earlier. “Iran is curious: How strong is our American president? How serious is he about our American security? Would he act with firm resolve to protect and defend?”

Naghmeh’s husband, Saeed, who lived in Idaho, had been setting up Christian churches in Iran for nearly a decade when he was suddenly arrested in 2012 “on charges related to his religious beliefs,” according to the State Department. Naghmeh told lawmakers that her husband had since been subjected to torture and was told that he’d be set free if he converted to Islam.

READ MORE: Wife of US Pastor Held in Iran Says Obama Is Being Tested

PHOTO: Warren Weinstein is shown in a still from video released anonymously to reporters in Pakistan, Dec. 26, 2013.
AP Photo
Warren Weinstein, Community Contractor, Kidnapped in Pakistan

Just months after his boss, Osama bin Laden, was killed by U.S. Navy SEALs, the new leader of al Qaeda, Ayman al-Zawahiri, released an audio message attempting to reassure his followers, including those in American custody.

"I tell the captive soldiers of al Qaeda and the Taliban and our female prisoners held in the prisons of the crusaders and their collaborators, 'We have not forgotten you and in order to free you we have taken hostage the Jewish American Warren Weinstein,'" says Zawahiri in the 30-minute statement, which appeared on jihadi websites.

Weinstein, 72, was working as a consultant in Lahore, Pakistan, helping with community projects, when gunmen stormed his apartment and took him captive in 2011. Eventually, he was taken, or traded to al Qaeda.

“I wanted to die right there on the spot,” Weinstein’s wife, Elaine, told “Good Morning America” in December 2013 after seeing a new video of her husband, “because he has no idea how hard we’ve tried to get him back… and it’s just heartbreaking because he’s asking for help and I can’t give him any.”

At the time of Elaine’s “GMA” appearance, State Department spokesperson Marie Harf told reporters the U.S. was working “behind the scenes” to try and secure Weinstein’s release.

READ MORE: US Working ‘Behind the Scenes’ for Al Qaeda Hostage Release, State Says

PHOTO: In this Nov. 27, 2012 file photo provided by James L. Berenthal, jailed American Alan Gross poses for a photo.
James L. Berenthal/AP Photo
Alan Gross, USAID Worker, Detained in Cuba

Alan Gross was picked up in Cuba and thrown in prison for what authorities called “acts against the independence or territorial integrity of the Cuban state.” That was back in 2009.

At the time, Gross was working for a company contracted by U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), doing work to help “improve internet access for the Jewish community in Cuba,” according to court documents.

Gross, 65, has suffered in captivity, his lawyer Scott Gilbert said recently. Gross has lost most of the vision in his right eye, walks with a limp, lost a tooth and is 110 pounds lighter than when he was arrested, The Associated Press reported in April.

“…Alan means what he says, which is that one year from now if this issue has been resolved, he will come home to his family. If it has not been resolved, he will come home dead,” Gilbert said.

READ MORE: 3 Years After Arrest, American Alan Gross Still Jailed in Cuba

PHOTO: This 2011 file family photo provided by Terri Chung shows Kenneth Bae.
Courtesy Terri Chung/AP Photo
Kenneth Bae, Korean-American, Sent to Labor Camp in North Korea

In 2012, 45-year-old Korean-American Kenneth Bae was detained in North Korea while leading a tour group and eventually sentenced to 15 years hard labor for allegedly attempting to overthrow the state. The U.S. has said Bae is not guilty of any crimes.

This January, Bae held a press conference that he said he requested, saying he had committed a “serious crime.”

“I am deeply aware of my crimes, but I hope to have an opportunity to become a bridge to connect the friendship between North Korea and the Western world,” he said.

Despite his hopefulness, the next month ABC News learned that Bae had been sent to a labor camp in part as a punishment for American B-52 bomber drills in the region.

READ MORE: North Korea Sent Kennteh Bae to Labor Camp to Protest B-52 Flights

PHOTO: This photo posted on the website shows journalist James Foley in Aleppo, Syria, in November, 2012.
Nicole Tung/ Photo
American Journalists in Syria, Yemen, Somalia

It was November 2012 when armed men grabbed reporter James Foley (pictured) off the streets near Idlib, Syria. According to a website dedicated to Foley’s safe return, Foley is the oldest of five children and had reported on the Middle East for the previous five years. His family, the site said, appeals for the release of Jim unharmed.

Luke Somers, a photographer whose work in Yemen landed him on al Jazeera, was reportedly kidnapped in the country’s capital of Sana’a in September 2013. This March, a group of Yemeni journalists gathered to condemn his abduction. In a piece in the National Yemen, Chief Editor Fakhri Al-Arashi wrote that Somers worked for several news outlets there, including the National Yemen. The journalists called for Somers’ immediate release.

Journalist Michael Scott Moore was reportedly taken from an airport in Somalia by armed gunmen in January 2012. Days later, a State Department spokesperson said the department was “concerned about this individual’s safety and well-being.” The spokesperson said the U.S. government was working “with our contacts in Kenya and Somalia to try to get more information” and called on the kidnappers to immediately release their captive.

Marine Jailed, Ex-Marine Kidnapped in Mexico

Five days ago, an Arizona Congressman was allowed to visit Marine Sgt. Andrew Tahmooressi as Tahmooressi sat in a Mexican prison. Tahmooressi had been tossed in prison in late March after Mexican authorities found three guns in his truck – guns Tahmooressi says he legally owns, according to The Associated Press. Tahmooressi’s friends and family have pressured lawmakers to help convince the Mexican government to let Tahmooressi go.

A little more than a year before, a former fellow Marine, Armando Torress III, was kidnapped in Mexico. At the time FBI officials said Torres drove across the Interational Port of Entry Bridge at Progresso, Texas, to visit his father’s ranch when armed gunmen grabbed him. The FBI told ABC News today there is no new information indicating Torress' current condition.

Join the Discussion
You are using an outdated version of Internet Explorer. Please click here to upgrade your browser in order to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus
You Might Also Like...