Men held by Taliban speak to families in 'emotional' phone call

The home secretary suggested the UK Government is in 'negotiations' to secure the release of the three men.

British men held by Taliban in Afghanistan speak to families in ’emotional’ phone call iStock

The families of two British men who are being held in Taliban custody in Afghanistan have been able to speak to them in an “emotional” call.

Non-profit organisation the Presidium Network is assisting the men, charity medic Kevin Cornwell, 53, from Middlesbrough, and a second unnamed man.

A third man, Miles Routledge, the British holidaymaker who received widespread attention and criticism on social media in August 2021 having travelled to Afghanistan despite the Taliban’s gains in the nation, has also been detained.

Earlier, the Home Secretary suggested the Government is “in negotiations” regarding the three men.

The two men being assisted by Presidium were detained by Taliban secret police on January 11.

It is unclear how long Mr Routledge has been held for.

Speaking about the call, Mr Cornwell and the unnamed man had with their families, Scott Richards, co-founder of the Presidium Network, said on Twitter: “We can confirm the men have spoken with the family, the conversation was unscripted, and that they are being treated fairly.

“The family was able to speak for one minute to one minute and a half and to speak freely, clearly what is an important and emotional call.”

Mr Richards said the call “represents tremendous progress in the situation”, adding: “The details of that call are private but we understand a great relief to the family.

“The relief Kevin’s family expressed after hearing his voice for the first time in three months not knowing if he was well brought a sense of peace and gave them hope that this situation will be resolved soon.”

Speaking on the Sophy Ridge On Sunday programme on Sky News, Home Secretary Suella Braverman said: “Anyone travelling to dangerous parts of the world should take the utmost caution.

“If they are going to do that they should always act on the advice of the Foreign Office travel advice.

“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.

“And the Government is in negotiations and working hard to ensure people’s safety is upheld.”

Pressed on whether negotiations are currently happening, Ms Braverman replied: “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.”

Mr Richards said: “The FCDO would be fully anticipated to be using its available resources to support the negotiations and understand the circumstances facing the detainees.

“We are not privileged with any information pertaining to their actions and, should we become aware of them, we would be unable to discuss.

“We certainly welcome their assistance and would be pleased to co-operate alongside, as we have done in the past.”

Mr Richards said the men are being held in a general directorate of intelligence facility for foreigners.

A Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) spokesman said: “We are working hard to secure consular contact with British nationals detained in Afghanistan and we are supporting families.”

The FCDO continues to advise against all travel to Afghanistan based on the security risks, including detention.

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