KABUL: An Austrian man has been arrested by the Taliban on accusations of spying and is being held in Afghanistan after he traveled to the country earlier this year, the Austrian Foreign Ministry said Tuesday.
The Austrian ministry confirmed that the man travelled to Afghanistan in May and was detained there. It was mentioned that Austria has long advised against visiting Afghanistan.
Austrian government has denied to providing any information regarding the detainee, stating that they have been “actively seeing a solution” since learning of the arrest.
The Austrian daily Der Standard has said the man was a veteran far-right extremist in his 80s and a co-founder of a minor far-right party banned in 1988, the National Democratic Party.
According to the report, he has been detained for a few weeks since a far-right publication published an article titled “Vacation with the Taliban”, in which he presented a favourable portrayal of life in Afghanistan under Taliban control. He is allegedly being held for espionage, and Austrians have made his case public via Telegram groups.
Der Standard claimed that the Austrian, only identified as Herbert F., had travelled to Afghanistan in the 1980s and Kurdish fighters against the ISIS group in northern Syria a few years ago.
Since Taliban seized control of Afghanistan on August 2021, the Taliban authorities have not been recognized as a legitimate government in the country, and the international community conditioned their recognition on several factors, including respecting human rights and women’s rights, cutting ties with terrorist outlets, stopping drug trafficking and forming an inclusive government in the country.