UK citizens detained: The UK government said on Saturday that a large number of British nationals were being detained in Afghanistan and raised the issue with the country’s Taliban officials. The statement by the foreign ministry came a day after the Taliban released two detained foreign journalists, including a former BBC correspondent.
The ministry said, “We are helping the families of many British nationals who have been detained in Afghanistan. UK authorities have raised the issue of detention with the Taliban on every occasion, in similar efforts this week by a delegation had traveled to Kabul.”
The delegation led by Hugo Shorter
A British delegation – led by Hugo Shorter (the head of the UK mission in Afghanistan based in Qatar) – traveled to Kabul earlier this week to meet Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi. Shorter said he had discussed the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan, as well as human rights abuses, with Taliban officials during his visit to the country.
On Friday, Western media reports said at least six British nationals had been detained in Afghanistan, including former BBC correspondent Andrew North, who was released later that day. Taliban officials have not said anything on this issue so far.
Among the detained British nationals is Peter Juvenal, who, according to a statement released by his friends, has been detained since early December. Journalist-turned-businessman Juvenal is also a German citizen and is married to an Afghan woman. The statement said he may have been “accidentally detained” as he was in Afghanistan to discuss investments in the country’s mining industry.
“He is being held without charge, and has no liberty to contact his family or lawyers,” the statement said. “Prior to his arrest, he was acting openly and held frequent meetings with senior Taliban officials,” the statement said. The statement also noted that Juvenal was the cameraman for a 1997 CNN interview with Osama bin Laden, the founder of al-Qaeda in Afghanistan.
Taliban detained two journalists on Friday
On Friday, the Taliban released Andrew North and another foreign journalist after being detained during an assignment for the UN refugee agency in Afghanistan. It was not clear when he was taken into custody, but the agency said it was a “relief” that both he and his Afghan allies were freed.
Taliban government spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said he was detained because he did not have valid identity cards and documents. Since seizing power in August, the Taliban have cracked down on dissent, forcefully dispersed women’s protests, detained critics of the regime, and often beat up Afghan journalists.