UK

‘Danger tourist’ among three Britons held by Taliban – as government ‘in negotiations’ to ensure their safety

The UK government is “in negotiations” over three Britons held by the Taliban in Afghanistan, the home secretary has said.

The three British men include “danger tourist” Miles Routledge, 23, charity medic Kevin Cornwell, 53, and an unnamed UK national who manages a hotel in Kabul.

They are all believed to have been held by Taliban secret police since January in separate incidents, it emerged on Saturday.

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Home Secretary Suella Braverman told Sky News’ Sophy Ridge on Sunday: “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.”

Asked directly if the government was in negotiations, Ms Braverman replied: “If there are problems and if there are safety concerns to British individuals abroad, then the FCO will be working actively to ensure people are safe.”

More on Afghanistan

She added that anybody travelling to dangerous parts of the world “should take the utmost caution” and should always act on the advice of the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO).

The FCDO advises UK citizens against all travel to Afghanistan based on the security risks involved, including the possibility of detention by the Taliban authorities, with a specific risk of detention of British nationals that the British government may not be notified about.

It says there are no British consular officials in the country and the ability to provide consular assistance “is severely limited and cannot be delivered in person”.

Earlier, an FCDO spokesman said: “We are working hard to secure consular contact with British nationals detained in Afghanistan and we are supporting families.”

The UK maintains a rule of not negotiating with terrorists, but the Taliban in Afghanistan is not a proscribed terrorist group and Supreme Leader Hibutallah Akhundzada is not subject to sanctions.

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 when the UK and allied forces left the country suddenly as the Taliban took over.

He appears to have returned to the country since then.

Scott Richards from the Presidium Network non-profit organisation, which is assisting Mr Cornwell and the unnamed Briton, told Sky News 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.”

He said he was “very hopeful” they would have contact with the men.

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 a “misunderstanding” and the licence may have become separated from the firearm during the search.

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