Monday, June 9, 2014 | 3:25 p.m.
BOISE, Idaho — The family of an American soldier recently released after five years of captivity by the Taliban has released a statement thanking supporters for their prayers and kindness.
Family friend Debbie O'Neall emailed the statement on behalf of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl's family late Monday morning.
"They would like to thank each and every Facebook supporter and friend for their prayers and kindness during not only the past 10 days but for the past 5 years," the statement read. "It has meant the World to them. They ask that their privacy is respected as they continue on this new path with Bowe. They apologize for not being able to return each phone call, text, message, and email but please know they are very grateful for the love they are receiving from all of you."
O'Neall said she's not the family's spokesperson, but agreed to send out this one-time message at Bob and Jani Bergdahl's request.
Bergdahl's parents live in Hailey and the town has been swamped with hate mail and angry phone calls over circumstances surrounding Bergdahl's release. The FBI is investigating threats made against Bergdahl's family.
Some of the outcry is over questions surrounding Bergdahl's departure from his Afghanistan military base in 2009 and President Barack Obama's move to send five enemy combatants to Qatar in exchange for Bergdahl's freedom. The five detainees have been described as Taliban officials, and they spent more than a decade in Guantanamo Bay.