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Bowe Bergdahl Release: The Moment Overjoyed Taliban Suspects Walk Free After US Exchange (VIDEO)

03/06/2014 14:28 BST | Updated 03/06/2014 14:59 BST

This is the moment a Taliban suspect was handed over in Qatar as part of a much-criticised deal that freed a US soldier.

Bowe Bergdahl was released after five years’ captivity in Afghanistan, but those in the government who worked for his release face mounting questions over the weekend prisoner swap that won his freedom.

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READ MORE: Bowe Bergdahl's Release By Taliban Not Welcomed By Everyone In US

The Taliban called the deal with the US a huge success, following a swap for five of its senior members who were being held in Guantanamo Bay.

Mystery still surrounds the disappearance of Sgt Bergdahl, 28, in 2009 — with some furious US soldiers yesterday claiming he went AWOL in the middle of the night.

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Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl

At least six soldiers were reportedly killed while searching for him after he vanished near the Afghan-Pakistan border.

Ex-comrade Matt Vierkant said: “Bowe Bergdahl deserted and his fellow Americans lost their lives searching for him.”

US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel has defended the prisoner exchange with the Taliban, saying Bowe Bergdahl's life was in danger.

Hagel declined to comment on earlier reports that the sergeant had walked away from his unit, disillusioned with the war. Such matters “will be dealt with later,” he said.

Hagel, visiting troops in Afghanistan, was met with silence when he told a group of them in a Bagram Air Field hangar: “This is a happy day. We got one of our own back.”

Top Republican leaders in the US Congress criticised the release of the Afghan prisoners in exchange for the American and accused President Barack Obamaof breaking the law that requires Congress to be notified of prisoners freed from the US military base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Bergdahl's parents, Bob and Jani, led a tireless campaign to keep their son's story in the public eye.

"While Bowe was gone, he was never forgotten," Obama said in a statement from the White House Rose Garden, where he was joined by Bergdahl's parents. "The United States of America does not ever leave our men and women in uniform behind."

A homecoming is being prepared in his hometown of Hailey, Idaho.

The owner of a wine bar in Hailey and an old friend of Bergdahl, said: "It's very exciting. We're all still kind of walking around on clouds.

"We're all just waiting to get eyes on him. That's going to be a topper."

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