Taliban kidnap nine Westerners, including former BBC journalist

The foreign nationals were arrested in Kabul on charges of working for Western intelligence agencies.


Two journalists working for the United Nations were arrested in Kabul, As revealed by the global agency in a tweet on Friday, with reports of at least eight other Westerners also being held in the war-torn nation.

“Two UNHCR journalists and Afghan citizens working with them have been detained in Kabul. We are doing everything we can to resolve the situation, in coordination with others,” UNHCR said in a tweet.

“We will not be making any further comments given the nature of the situation.”

Among those being held is former BBC reporter Andrew North, former Afghan vice president Amrullah Saleh said.

Saleh also claimed that eight other Westerners were “kidnapped” by the Taliban, who seized power last year amid a chaotic US troop withdrawal.

“Because there is no media and citizens do not report, corruption, crime and atrocities in a suffocating environment are not well exposed,” he tweeted on Friday.

“As an example, 9 citizens of Western countries have been kidnapped, including the BBC’s Andrew North and Peter Juvenal, owner of the Gandomak restaurant.”

A member of a Taliban intelligence unit in Kabul told the Washington Post that “several foreign nationals” were arrested in Kabul on charges of working for Western intelligence agencies.

The BBC’s foreign news editor Paul Danahar said in a tweet that North “is working for the UN in Kabul.”

Sources have confirmed to an Afghan news channel that members of the movement that seized power last year have detained nine foreigners.

“He is a former colleague and a respected journalist,” Saleh added.

“All inquiries about his situation, which are obviously of concern to his friends and colleagues, should be directed to the UN.”

North, a former BBC correspondent, has a history of reporting from conflict zones and extreme environments.

According to his LinkedIn profile, he worked for the BBC for more than 20 years in the Middle East and Asia.

Now as a freelance journalist, he settled in Tbilisi, Georgia.

His recent work has included reporting on the Afghan conflict, field research in Afghanistan for a UK charity, training journalists and producing large-scale multimedia reports on major global issues.

He has published articles in The Economist, Foreign Affairs, Politico, Tortoise Media and The Guardian.

In his profile, he states: “I am used to being made to feel in difficult places in a short time, getting my bearings and getting the job done.

“I have extensive experience and global contacts, having worked in more than 60 countries around the world, in Asia, the Middle East, Europe, and North and South America.” North was last active on Twitter on February 3, retweeting a call for information about the alleged detention of two female activists in Kabul from the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan.