UK govt ‘in negotiations’ after three British men held in Afghanistan

Taliban fighters pictured in Kabul. Photo: AFP/File

LONDON: Britain’s interior minister Suella Braverman on Sunday said the UK government was “in negotiations” after three British men were detained by the Taliban in Afghanistan.

Media reports have identified the men as charity medic Kevin Cornwell, 53, the unnamed manager of a hotel for aid workers and YouTube star Miles Routledge.

Scott Richards, co-founder of the non-profit group the Presidium Network, told AFP his organisation was representing the families of two of the three detainees.

There had been “interactions” on Sunday with the men who were in “good condition, as best as one can be in a state of detention”.

“They’re ostensibly charged on what we believe to be related to an accusation of an illegal firearm, although that firearm was stored in a safe alongside its licence, so we believe the situation is largely a misunderstanding,” he added.

The two men are believed to have been held by the Taliban since January.

It is not known how long the third man has been held for.

“The government is in negotiations and working hard to ensure people’s safety is upheld,” Braverman told Sky News earlier.

“We are working hard to secure consular contact with British nationals detained in Afghanistan and we are supporting families,” the UK’s foreign ministry added in a statement.

Global outrage 

Richards said he hoped that the situation could be quickly resolved in a transparent way that would give the international aid community confidence.

“In a nation that is relying on foreign aid workers due to a variety of reasons, we need to ensure that it’s safe for these people to operate,” he said.

The Taliban returned to power in August 2021 and has since sparked global outrage with its policies in particular towards women and girls.

Last year the Taliban freed a veteran television cameraman and four other British nationals it had held for six months.

Peter Jouvenal was one of a “number” of Britons that the government in London said had been held by the group.

Britain’s foreign ministry said the five “had no role in the UK government’s work in Afghanistan and travelled to Afghanistan against the UK government’s travel advice.”

“This was a mistake,” it added.

At the time, Afghanistan government spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid accused the Britons of “carrying out activities against the country’s laws and traditions of the people of Afghanistan”.

“They promised to abide by the laws of Afghanistan, its traditions and culture of the people and not to violate them again,” he said.

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