Canadian Family 'Overjoyed' at Release of Taliban Prisoner

PHOTO: Canadian Colin Rutherford in captivity, May 8, 2011, in an image released by the Taliban via video.PlayTaliban video/The Canadian Press/AP Photo
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After five years in captivity, a Canadian national has been freed by the Afghan Taliban in what the man’s family called a “wonderful outcome” to a horrifying ordeal.

“We are obviously overjoyed with the news of Colin’s release,” the family of Canadian Colin Rutherford said in a statement provided to ABC News. “We would like to express our deepest gratitude to all those whose efforts have resulted in this wonderful outcome. We are very much looking forward to being reunited with Colin and feel that it would be premature to discuss much more publicly at this time.”

The Taliban announced Rutherford’s release overnight on its website, saying Rutherford, 31, was let go “on grounds of humanitarian sympathy and sublime Islamic ethics,” and the move had been ordered by the leader of the Afghan Taliban, presumably referring to Mullah Akhtar Muhammad Mansoor. The statement said Qatari officials had played a role in “intermediation.” A member of Rutherford’s family declined to elaborate on the details of the young man’s release.

Rutherford, who was accused by the Taliban of being a spy when he was captured in 2010, was released at 11 a.m. local time Monday in a dramatic scene in which a helicopter quickly picked up Rutherford as fighter jets flew overhead in a remote Afghan district, according to an Afghan official’s account related by The Associated Press.

Canada’s Foreign Minister Stephane Dion said Monday his nation was “very pleased that efforts to secure the release of Colin Rutherford from captivity have been successful” and also thanked Qatar for its help in securing Rutherford’s release.

“We look forward to Mr. Rutherford being able to return to Canada and reunite with his family and loved ones,” Dion said.

American woman Caitlin Coleman, her Canadian husband and their baby are believed to be held in Pakistan by militants. The couple disappeared while traveling through Afghanistan more than three years ago, and in mid-2014 the Coleman family released undated videos the couple made in captivity.

“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.