British men being held by the Taliban in Afghanistan have been permitted to contact their families in a claimed “goodwill gesture” as negotiations continue to free them.

The UK Government confirmed on Sunday that “negotiations” are underway to free Miles Routledge, Kevin Cornwell, and another unnamed man.

The non-profit Presidium Network said it is working with the families of Mr Cornwell and the unnamed man, believed to have been detained by Taliban secret police since January in separate incidents.

Mr Cornwell, a paramedic, was accused of having an illegal firearm, although his family say this is a misunderstanding and he was granted a license for it.

Mr Routledge is a controversial YouTuber and ‘danger tourist’ who received widespread attention and criticism on social media in August 2021 for going “on holiday” to Afghanistan despite the Taliban’s gains in the nation.

He was evacuated from the country but appears to have recently returned before being detained by the group.

On Sunday, Presidium said: “We can confirm the men have spoken with the family, the conversation was unscripted, and that they are being treated fairly. The family was able to speak for one minute to one minute and a half and to speak freely, clearly what is an important and emotional call.

“(It) represents tremendous progress in the situation. The details of that call are private but we understand a great relief to the family.

“The relief Kevin’s family expressed after hearing his voice for the first time in three months not knowing if he was well brought a sense of peace and gave them hope that this situation will be resolved soon.”

Scott Richards from the Presidium Network told Sky News the move was a “goodwill gesture and an incredibly important step”.

He said: “This is a landmark move for any negotiation with the Taliban, because we haven’t seen any of this privilege before.”

Speaking on Sophy Ridge on Sunday, Home Secretary Suella Braverman said: “Anyone travelling to dangerous parts of the world should take the utmost caution.

“If they are going to do that they should always act on the advice of the Foreign Office travel advice.

“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.”

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

“And the Government is in negotiations and working hard to ensure people’s safety is upheld.”

The FCDO continues to advise against all travel to Afghanistan based on the security risks, including detention.

By admin