The Taliban says they have released two Western citizens and their Afghan colleagues working for the United Nations refugee agency.
British citizen and former BBC journalist Andrew North, and Peter Jouvenal, a dual British-German citizen, former journalist and businessman, along with other team members, were on assignment with the U.N.’s High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
The Taliban detained both in December.
Former Afghanistan Vice President Amrullah Saleh first posted news of their detention.
“Due to no media, no reporting by citizens & a suffocating atmosphere, corruption, crime & atrocities aren’t well exposed,” he tweeted. “As an example, nine citizens of western countries have been kidnapped amongst them Andrew North of BBC & Peter Juvenal owner of Gandomak Restaurant. Talibs are liars.”
A spokesperson for the UNHCR said the two journalists were on assignment with the agency.
“We will make no further comment given the nature of the situation,” a spokesperson said about the situation.
Jouvenal’s friends issued a statement last Friday expressing concern for his safety.
“He is being held without charge, and with no freedom to contact his family or lawyers,” the statement said.
“Peter’s family and friends believe that he may have been detained in error, as he was in Afghanistan to discuss investments in Afghanistan’s mining industry as well as conducting family business. Before his arrest, he was working openly and had frequent meetings with senior Taliban officials.
“We urgently request that the Afghan authorities release Peter. He suffers from high blood pressure and needs medication. There is a high threat of COVID infection in the Afghan prison system.”
Mark Jacobson, the former deputy NATO representative in Afghanistan, said the detentions were concerning.
“I don’t know whether we are seeing some organized collective crackdown or whether you just have some individual situations, but it’s certainly concerning any time individuals with valid foreign credentials are detained, whether it’s a government that recognizes international convention or the Taliban,” he told the Wall Street Journal.
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