The families of two British men who were arrested and detained by the Taliban in Afghanistan have been able to speak to them for the first time since their arrest.
Kevin Cornwell, a 53-year-old charity medic from Middlesbrough, and another unnamed British national were arrested by the Taliban’s secret police on 11th January.
Another British citizen, Miles Routledge, 23, who was evacuated by British armed forces during the Kabul airlift less than two years ago, is also being held by the Taliban in Afghanistan. It is unclear how long he has been detained for.
Presidium Network, a British nonprofit organization that operates in conflict zones, is assisting Cornwell and the unnamed man. The organization’s co-founder, Scott Richards, tweeted on Sunday that “the men have spoken with the family, the conversation was unscripted, and that they are being treated fairly”.
The call lasted for one to one and a half minutes, during which the family was able to speak freely and express their emotions.
Richards stated that the call “represents tremendous progress in the situation,” and although the details of the conversation are private, it brought a great sense of relief to the family.
Cornwell’s family expressed their relief and joy at hearing his voice after three months of not knowing his whereabouts. Richards added that the men are being held in a general directorate of intelligence facility for foreigners.
Cornwell and the unnamed Briton were arrested by officers from the Taliban’s general directorate of intelligence after they accused Cornwell of having an illegal firearm in the safe in his room at the Darya Village hotel.
However, Cornwell’s family stated that he had been issued a license for the handgun by the Taliban government. Cornwell had been working as a medic for Iqarus International, which provides free healthcare to the local population.
Suella Braverman, the UK Home Secretary, suggested earlier that the government was “in negotiations” regarding the three men. When asked about the negotiations, she responded that “if there are problems and if there are safety concerns to British individuals abroad, then the FCDO will be working actively to ensure people are safe”.
A spokesperson for the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) stated that they are working hard to secure consular contact with the British nationals detained in Afghanistan and are supporting the families.
Despite the efforts made to ensure the safety of British nationals abroad, the FCDO advises against all travel to Afghanistan due to the security risks posed by the country’s current situation.