UN paramedic among four Britons released by the Taliban in Afghanistan

Kevin Cornwell's health has deteriorated significantly since he was detained in January

Kevin Cornwell,who has been released from detention in Afghanistan. PA
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A UN paramedic is among four British men who have been released from detention in Afghanistan following months-long talks with the Taliban.

Kevin Cornwell, 53, who suffers from serious kidney issues, had been held since January, alongside an unnamed manager of a hotel for aid workers in Kabul.

The National understands the other two Britons who have been released are self-professed “danger tourist” Miles Routledge and Ian Purchase, who was living in Kabul when he was detained.

The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office welcomed the news of the four men’s release.

In a statement released on Tuesday it said: “We welcome and appreciate the release by the current administration of Afghanistan of four British nationals who were detained on allegations of breaking the laws of Afghanistan.

“On behalf of families of the British nationals, we express their apologies to the current administration of Afghanistan for any violations of the laws of the country.

“We remind all British nationals of the requirement to comply with relevant UK counter-terrorism legislation when overseas and abide by all laws of the country of destination. Where appropriate, we will pass information to the relevant authorities in the UK for consideration.

“The UK government regrets this episode.”

Mr Cornwell and the hotel manager were arrested following a search of their rooms in the Darya Village hotel in Kabul in January, when a pistol was discovered in a safe. The owner had a licence, which was produced.

The health of Mr Cornwell has deteriorated during his detention. In April, he was said to be in need of immediate treatment for his kidney issues.

Scott Richards, co-founder of the UK-based Presidium Network, which liaised extensively with the Taliban on behalf of Mr Cornwell and the hotel manager throughout their detention, welcomed the news of their release.

He told The National on Tuesday: “We were informed early this morning of the release of all British detainees.

“We are relieved and have spoken with Mr Cornwell’s wife. We are thankful to the FCDO for their work. Two of the men have serious health conditions and the families may wish to take some time before they speak.

“We are glad this is over for everyone concerned and thrilled after 10 months they will be reunited with their loved ones.”

Mr Routledge returned to Afghanistan earlier this year after being evacuated during a holiday in the country in 2021 when the Taliban returned to power.

The 23-year-old was reportedly arrested in March by Taliban fighters, along with two Polish citizens.

In a post on social media, he said he had been arrested for withdrawing $1,000 from Western Union.

He has gained notoriety by travelling to dangerous countries and posting about it online.

Updated: October 10, 2023, 9:29 AM