‘Goodwill gesture’ taken by Taliban as detained British men ‘in contact’ with families

UK

British men being held by the Taliban in Afghanistan have been in contact with their relatives, a family spokesman has said.

Charity medic Kevin Cornwell, 53, and an unnamed UK national who manages a hotel in Kabul are believed to have been detained by secret police since January.

A third Briton – so-called “danger tourist” Miles Routledge, 23 – is also being held in Taliban custody after he returned to the country this year.

Scott Richards from the Presidium Network non-profit organisation, which is assisting Mr Cornwell and the unnamed Briton, told Sky News: “We’re very pleased to announce that there has been contact between families and the detainees.

“They were able to spend about 10 minutes this morning in an unscripted conversation, which is very important. This is a landmark move and for any negotiation with the Taliban, because we haven’t seen any of this privilege before.

“They’ve certainly taking this as a goodwill gesture and an incredibly important step.”

Mr Cornwell was arrested at his hotel by officers from the Taliban’s General Directorate of Intelligence on 11 January.

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He is accused of having an illegal firearm in the safe in his room, but his family say he had been granted a licence for the firearm.

Mr Richards said this was down to a “misunderstanding” and the licence may have become separated from the firearm during the search.

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Home Secretary Suella Braverman speaks to Sky News about the three Britons detained in Afghanistan

Home Secretary Suella Braverman says that the UK government is “in negotiations” over the three Britons.

She told Sky News’ Sophy Ridge on Sunday: “If there are risks to people’s safety, if they’re a British citizen abroad, then the UK government is going to do whatever it takes to ensure that they’re safe.

“The government is in negotiations and working hard to ensure people’s safety is upheld.”

Mr Routledge has gained fame – and attracted controversy – by travelling to dangerous countries and posting about it online.

In August 2021, he was on a “holiday” in Afghanistan when he was caught up in the chaos in the capital as the Taliban took control of the country.

He chose the war-torn country having looked up a list of the most dangerous places to visit in the world, despite the Taliban taking control of more and more of the country at the time.

Mr Routledge thanked the British Army after he was among those to leave during the Kabul airlift.

He appears to have returned to the country since then.

The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) continues to advise UK citizens against all travel to Afghanistan based on the security risks involved, including the possibility of detention by the Taliban authorities.

There is currently no British embassy in Afghanistan following the Taliban takeover and no UK consular officials in the country.

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