The Taliban have released five British civilian citizens from custody in Afghanistan, British authorities announced on Monday.
After the release, the United Kingdom government issued a statement of regret to the five men, who according to The New York Times, had been "caught up in a crackdown on foreigners and Afghan civil society activists by the Taliban, after they seized power in August."
That explanation differs somewhat from a Taliban spokesman saying the five British men violated the "country's laws and the traditions of the Afghan people."
Last summer, the Taliban took over Afghanistan after President Joe Biden ordered a full-scale withdrawal of U.S. troops from the Near East country.
Coinciding with that turbulent time, the British Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office (BFCDO) said the detained British men — who had no role with the U.K. government or military — were in Afghanistan against travel advice.
"This was a mistake," the BFCDO statement read. "On behalf of the families of the British nationals, we express their apologies for any breach of Afghan culture, customs or laws, and offer their assurance of future good conduct. The U.K. Government regrets this episode."
The five Britons were released after several meetings between British and Taliban officials, according to a Taliban statement.
"They pledged to abide by the laws of Afghanistan, the traditions and culture of the people and not to violate them again," Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid said in a statement.
Mujahid added: "Afghanistan is now safe for all, anyone can come to Afghanistan with confidence for charity and tourism."
The family of former journalist and businessman Peter Jouvenal — who was among the five individuals released from custody — issued a separate statement on Monday, expressing gratitude for Jouvenal's release, the Times reported.
"We are grateful to the thousands of people who have supported the campaign to release him," the family statement read. "We thank the team in the U.K. Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office who have worked tirelessly to secure his release."
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