British embassy papers expose Afghans to Taliban

Statement confirms sensitive material was not destroyed

Laurie Bristow, left, Britain's ambassador to Afghanistan, during the UK evacuation effort in Kabul, Afghanistan. Reuters
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Compromising personal details of Afghans have been found in the abandoned British embassy in Kabul as officials admitted that the rush to evacuate the site left some material behind.

A statement from the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) confirmed newspaper reports of the breach.

"We have worked tirelessly to secure the safety of those who worked for us, including getting three families to safety," an FCDO representative said.

"The drawdown of our embassy was done at pace as the situation in Kabul deteriorated. Every effort was made to destroy sensitive material."

Foreign office staff in Afghanistan abandoned documents in the building in central Kabul, which included resumes and personal contact details of seven Afghans. The Times newspaper uncovered the material under escort with the Taliban as the final stages of a chaotic evacuation at the capital's airport was under way.

After phone calls, based on details from abandoned documents, the newspaper said some of those listed had been relocated to the UK since the fall of country to the Taliban. But it said that some embassy staff had been left behind. It identified three Afghan staff and eight family members, including five children, stranded among the crowds unable to gain access to the British-held sector of the airport.

One young Afghan man, who applied for a job at the embassy only weeks ago, had previous experience working for the US military in Helmand on his application, which included his name, phone number and full address.

The personal details and home locations of some Afghan staff members and job applicants were left in the dirt around the embassy complex for anyone to see.

The Taliban told the newspaper that it would ensure the embassy was guarded until the British officials returned after the new regime was recognised.

“We are preserving security here until the day your diplomats recognise us and return,” one of the guards said.

Laurie Bristow, the ambassador, has been leading the effort to move evacuees out of Afghanistan. He has said soldiers and diplomats had been working to get about 9,000 British and Afghan citizens and embassy staff to safety.

Updated: August 27, 2021, 10:42 AM