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British men held by Taliban ‘in contact’ with relatives, family spokesman says | World News

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

Charity medic Kevin Cornwell, 53, and an unnamed UK national who manages a hotel in Kabul are believed to have been detained by secret police since January.

A third Briton – so-called “danger tourist” Miles Routledge, 23 – is also being held in Taliban custody after he returned to the country this year.

Scott Richards from the Presidium Network non-profit organisation, 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.

“They’ve certainly taking this as a goodwill gesture and an incredibly important step.”

Mr Cornwell was arrested at his hotel by officers from the Taliban’s General Directorate of Intelligence on 11 January.

He is accused of having an illegal firearm in the safe in his room, but his family say he had been granted a licence for the firearm.

Mr Richards said this was down to a “misunderstanding” and the licence may have become separated from the firearm during the search.

Mr Routledge, 23, has gained fame – and attracted controversy – by travelling to dangerous countries and posting about it online.

In August 2021, he was on a “holiday” in Afghanistan when he was caught up in the chaos in the capital as the Taliban took control of the country.

He chose the war-torn country having looked up a list of the most dangerous places to visit in the world, despite the Taliban taking control of more and more of the country at the time.

Mr Routledge thanked the British Army after he was among those to leave during the Kabul airlift.

He appears to have returned to the country since then.

Afghanistan: Three British men being held in Taliban custody – including ‘danger tourist’ who returned after army evacuation | World News

Three British men are being held in Taliban custody in Afghanistan – including so-called “danger tourist” Miles Routledge who returned to the country after being evacuated by British armed forces less than two years ago.

The other two men are charity medic Kevin Cornwell and another unnamed UK national who manages a hotel in Kabul. They are believed to have been held by Taliban secret police since January in a separate incident.

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

Scott Richards from the Presidium Network non-profit which is assisting Mr Cornwell and the unnamed Briton, told Sky News that he believes the pair are in good health and being well treated.

But he added: “There has been no meaningful contact [with the men], there has been no access by international monitoring agencies… and there’s been no other form of access to the individuals to date.”

“We’re very hopeful that contact will be made,” he added. His organisation hopes that a positive development in the situation could coincide with the end of Ramadan and the celebration of Eid.

Mr Routledge, 23, has gained fame – and attracted controversy – by travelling to dangerous countries and posting about it online.

In August 2021 he was on a “holiday” in Afghanistan when he was caught up in the chaos in the capital as the Taliban took control of the country.

He chose the war-torn country having looked up a list of the most dangerous places to visit in the world, despite the Taliban taking control of more and more of the country at the time.

Mr Routledge thanked the British Army after he was among those evacuated during the Kabul airlift.

He appears to have returned to the country since then.

Read more:
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Taliban leader tells officials to sack their sons

Mr Cornwell, 53, was arrested at his hotel by officers from the Taliban’s General Directorate of Intelligence (GDI) on 11 January.

He is accused of having an illegal firearm in the safe in his room, but his family say he had been granted a licence for the firearm.

Mr Richards said this was down to a “misunderstanding” and the licence may have become separated from the firearm during the search.

The FCDO continues to advise UK citizens against all travel to Afghanistan based on the security risks involved, including the possibility of detention by the Taliban authorities.

“At this point in time it would be unwise for anyone to enter into Afghanistan that doesn’t understand the culture, that doesn’t understand these things, because it can change on you very, very quickly,” Mr Richards warned.

Harry says ‘dangerous lie’ told about his book – and claims Taliban remarks were taken out of context | UK News

Prince Harry has said the “most dangerous lie” about his explosive memoir Spare is that he boasted about killing 25 Taliban while serving as a soldier in Afghanistan.

The controversial book, which was released on Tuesday, sparked an uproar after it was revealed the Duke of Sussex had engaged in “the taking of human lives”.

“So, my number is 25. It’s not a number that fills me with satisfaction, but nor does it embarrass me,” he wrote.

The prince said he did not think of them as “people”, but instead as “chess pieces” that had been taken off the board.

In an interview with Stephen Colbert on The Late Show, the 38-year-old said it had been “hurtful and challenging” to watch the reactions after his book was prematurely leaked.

“Without a doubt, the most dangerous lie that they have told, is that I somehow boasted about the number of people that I killed in Afghanistan,” he said.

He noted the context in which the reference appeared in the memoir, before saying: “I should say, if I heard anyone boasting about that kind of thing, I would be angry. But it’s a lie.

“And hopefully now that the book is out, people will be able to see the context, and it is – it’s really troubling and very disturbing that they can get away with it.

“Because they had the context. It wasn’t like ‘here’s just one line’ – they had the whole section, they ripped it away and just said ‘here it is, he’s boasting on this’.

“When as you say, you’ve read it and hopefully everyone else will be able to have the chance to read it, and that’s dangerous.

“My words are not dangerous, but the spin of my words are very dangerous.”

Pic: CBS via AP
Image:
Pic: CBS via AP

Admiral Lord West, former head of the Royal Navy, said the duke had been “very stupid” for giving details of his Taliban kills.

The retired admiral told the Sunday Mirror that the Invictus Games – which were created by Harry and are scheduled to be held in Dusseldorf, Germany, this year – will have “serious security issues” because of their direct connection to Harry.

Read more:
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Midnight queues: Why people are buying Spare

Key revelations in Prince Harry’s book

  • The duke admits to using cocaine – saying “it wasn’t very fun”
  • He claims to have killed 25 people in Afghanistan during his two tours of duty
  • He says he asked his father not to marry Camilla – and his brother made the same request
  • He describes how King Charles told him Meghan should not go to Balmoral after the Queen’s death
  • He recalled the moment he found out his mother, Princess Diana, had been in a car accident
  • He says he lost his virginity to an older woman in a field behind a busy pub
  • He accuses Prince William of knocking him over during an argument about the Duchess of Sussex

Lord West added that the global multi-sport event for wounded, injured and sick servicemen and women will be a prime target for those seeking revenge.

Meanwhile, a senior Taliban leader Anas Haqqani tweeted that the militants Harry had killed in Afghanistan were “not chess pieces, they were humans”.

Harry told Colbert he had been driven to discuss his kills in the hopes of reducing veteran suicides.

“I made a choice to share it because having spent nearly two decades working with veterans all around the world, I think the most important thing is to be honest and to give space to others to be able to share their experiences without any shame,” he said.

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Harry book ‘half price already’

“And my whole goal, my attempt with sharing that detail, is to reduce the number of suicides.

Palace attempted to ‘undermine’ book

Harry claimed Buckingham Palace attempted to undermine the stories he has told in the book, with the help of the British press.

Without mentioning any names, Colbert asked if there had been attempts by the Palace to undermine the book, to which he replied: “Of course, and mainly by the British press.”

Asked again if it was the Palace who had assisted the undermining of his book, Harry said: “Of course.”

Fan of The Crown

Elsewhere in the interview, Harry admitted to watching The Crown – the hit Netflix historical drama series about Queen Elizabeth II’s reign and the Royal Family.

“You’ve got to have watched some of The Crown, right?” Colbert asks.

“Yes, actually, I have watched The Crown,” Harry said. “The older stuff and the more recent stuff.”

On whether he fact-checks the Netflix show, the prince laughed before quipping: “Yes, I do actually. Which, by the way, another reason it is so important that history has it right.”

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Queen was ‘incredibly humorous’

The prince said he remembers his late grandmother the Queen for her “sharp wit” and sense of humour.

“Her sharp wit, her sense of humour, her ability to respond to anybody with a completely straight face. But totally joking,” he told Colbert.

“She was incredibly humorous.”

He continued: “I’m genuinely happy for her because she finished life. She had an amazing life, she had an amazing career and she was buried with her husband.

“And bearing in mind the global suffering that everybody’s experienced over the last three years, there was less suffering for both of my grandparents. I’m really, really grateful for that.”

Harry’s interview with Colbert marks the end of the press run for his autobiography, which has become the fastest-selling non-fiction book ever, recording figures of 400,000 copies so far across hardback, eBook and audio formats on its first day of publication.

The prince has used the 550-plus pages of Spare to make headline-dominating claims including accusing William of physically attacking him and teasing him about his panic attacks, saying King Charles put his own interests above Harry’s and, in a US broadcast interview, branding Camilla as the “villain” and “dangerous”.

But as a well-connected individual, the book is also packed with celebrity cameos, from the Spice Girls to Courtney Cox.