In a speech announcing the agreement last week, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said US and Australian people's health had deteriorated in the Taliban detention. King is 63 and weeks are 50.
Immediately after their removal, the Afghan government said they appeared to have been kidnapped by a criminal group. But next month, the Pentagon said the Navy SEALs had tried to rescue the two men from Taliban captivity in eastern Afghanistan but that the raid was unsuccessful.
Four months later, in January 201
7, King and Weeks appeared in a Taliban propaganda video, begging to be released.
Both men appeared uncomfortable in the emotional 13-minute video, asking the US government to negotiate a prisoner swap to win them their freedom.
In the video, King US officials said "can change us for some prisoners in Bagram," referring to a military prison in Afghanistan where many Taliban insurgents are being held. All three commanders released on Tuesday were held near the airbase in Bagram.
The king's hair and beard had grown long and he repeatedly coughed in the video and rubbed his eyes as he listed the names of his family members. At one point, when King described the details of their case, the weeks leaned over their knees with their heads in their hands and wiped tears from their eyes. King then asked again for the US government to talk to the militants about a prisoner change. "We don't know how long the Taliban will be patient," he said.
Later that year, the Taliban warned that King was seriously ill from kidney and heart disease. The group said in a statement at the time that they were trying to take care of him but did not have the right facilities "because we are facing war conditions."
"The state of … the said teacher has deteriorated exponentially," the statement said.
The FBI offered a reward of up to $ 1 million for information that would lead to King & # 39; s release.
Criminal kidnappings are relatively common in Kabul, where gangs often transfer abductions to the Taliban, who then use them as bargaining chips.
King and Weeks were abducted from near the American University of Afghanistan's campus, in a lively part of Kabul. The university, founded in 2006, is Afghanistan's first private, non-profit university. King began teaching there in 2014 and the weeks had only just begun about a month before the kidnapping took place, the university said in a statement that they would be released shortly after their abduction.
In a statement Tuesday, the university expressed relief over the news of the release of the two men. "We look forward to providing all the support we can to Kevin and Tim and their families," it said.