British men detained by Taliban regime 'in contact' with families amid UK Government talks

2 April 2023, 10:54 | Updated: 2 April 2023, 16:19

Routledge (left) and Kevin Cornwell (right) are among the three detained men
Routledge (left) and Kevin Cornwell (right) are among the three detained men. Picture: PA / Alamy

By Will Taylor

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

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53-year-old Kevin Cornwell, a charity medic, and an unnamed British national who manages a hotel for aid workers in Kabul have been detained since early January by Taliban secret police.

"Danger tourist" Miles Routledge is also being held after returning to the Afghanistan this year.

Scott Richards from non-profit organisation Presidium Network, 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.

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"They've certainly taking this as a goodwill gesture and an incredibly important step."

Mr Cornwell was arrested in a raid at his hotel by officers from the Taliban's General Directorate of Intelligence (GDI) on January 11.

Taliban agents accused Mr Cornwell, a married father from Middlesborough, of having an illegal firearm in the safe in his room, but his family say he had been granted a licence for it by the Taliban government.

Mr Richards said this due to a "misunderstanding" and that during the search the licence may have become separated from the firearm.

It comes as the Home Secretary Suella Braverman revealed the UK government is "in negotiations" over the three British nationals.

Speaking to Sky News, Ms Braverman said: "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."

Miles Routledge (pictured) grabbed headlines after visiting Aghanistan for a 'holiday' as the Taliban were making gains across the country.
Miles Routledge (pictured) grabbed headlines after visiting Aghanistan for a 'holiday' as the Taliban were making gains across the country. Picture: PA

Mr Routledge, a social media star from Birmingham who has built a large following visiting "the most dangerous places on Earth for fun", is also in detention, despite being evacuated from the country when the Taliban swept to back into power in 2021.

He has attracted controversy online by travelling to dangerous countries and sharing his experiences on social media.

Mr Routledge was caught up in the chaos in Kabul during a 'holiday' to the country in August 2021, having chosen the country after looking up the most dangerous places in the world to visit, despite the Taliban's gains in the country at the time.

The 23-year-old appears to have since returned to the country following the evacuation.

A spokesperson for the Foreign Office said: "We are working hard to secure consular contact with British nationals detained in Afghanistan and we are supporting families."

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Scott Richards, from the Presidium Network, previously said Mr Cornwell and the unnamed man his organisation is helping are in good health and being well treated.

Mr Cornwell is a charity medic
Mr Cornwell is a charity medic. Picture: Handout

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The Foreign Office continues to advise UK citizens against any travel to Afghanistan due to the security risks involved, which includes the possibility of being detained by the Taliban authorities.

There is currently no British embassy or any UK consular officials in the country following the Taliban takeover in 2021.