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Two of Three British Men Being Held by Taliban Allowed Call to Families

Two of the British men being held by the Taliban in Afghanistan have spoken to their families, a humanitarian group representing them has said.

The Presidium Network said Kevin Cornwell, 53, and another unnamed man were able to speak “freely” and that the calls had brought “great relief”.

A third man, named as Miles Routledge, 23, but not being represented by the group, is also being held.

The government has said it is “in negotiations” over the men.

Presidium, a UK-based non-profit organisation that supports people in crisis, said the two men were able to speak for “one minute to one minute and a half” and described the call as a sign of “tremendous progress in the situation”.

Referring specifically to Mr Cornwell, it said: “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 great sense of peace and gave them hope that this situation will be resolved soon.”

Mr Cornwell, a paramedic from Middlesbrough who works for a charity, and the unnamed man were detained on 11 January.

Scott Richards of Presidium said previously that there were “no official charges as such” but that the detention was understood to be over a weapon that had been in a safe in Mr Cornwell’s room.

He said the weapon was being stored with a licence issued by the Afghan interior ministry but that the license was missing.

“We have taken several statements from witnesses who have seen the licence and affirm its existence,” he said.

“It is perfectly possible that during the search the licence was separated from the weapon and, as such, why we refer to this scenario as a probable misunderstanding.”

Speaking to Sky News on Sunday, Home Secretary Suella Braverman said the government was “in negotiations and working hard to ensure people’s safety is upheld”.

“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,” she 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 third man, Mr Routledge, from Birmingham, is a former Loughborough University student known for travelling to dangerous countries and posting about it on social media.

In August 2021, he was evacuated from Afghanistan by the British armed forces in the month that the Taliban swept back into power in the country. He said at the time he was “exhausted but relieved” and thankful to those who had helped get him out.

He chose to travel to Afghanistan because he enjoys “dark” and “extreme” tourism, he said.

He has not posted on his YouTube channel or his Twitter account for more than a month.

Source : BBC