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11 Feb, 2022 13:04

Former BBC reporter ‘kidnapped by Taliban’ – ex-Afghan VP

Journalist Andrew North is among a group of nine Westerners held by the new Afghan leadership, the self-exiled ex-official claims
Former BBC reporter ‘kidnapped by Taliban’ – ex-Afghan VP

Amrullah Saleh, the former vice president of Afghanistan, says the Taliban “kidnapped” nine foreign nationals from Western countries, including a journalist who once worked for the BBC before going independent. Andrew North was identified by name in an explosive tweet on Friday, along with Peter Juvenal, a restaurant owner.

Saleh fled Afghanistan when the Western-backed government collapsed last year under pressure from Taliban insurgents, and claims to be the president of the government-in-exile. His kidnapping allegation may have been supported by other sources, including the UN.

The refugee agency of the United Nations said two journalists on assignment for them, as well as Afghan nationals working with them, were detained in Kabul. The UNHCR said it was working to resolve the situation and would not offer further comments “given the nature of the situation.”

BBC News executive editor Paul Danahar responded to Saleh’s tweet, saying North was working for the UN in Kabul and suggested that all inquiries about him should be directed there. “He is a former colleague and a respected journalist,” he said, adding that his friends and colleagues were “obviously concerned about” him.

North used to post regularly on his Twitter account, but has not updated it since February 3.

Some Afghan media reported that their sources in the BBC World Service confirmed North’s detention.

The Taliban has not immediately commented on Saleh’s allegations.

North worked as a BBC correspondent in various parts of the world, including Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon, and India, since 2000, before going independent in 2014, according to his LinkedIn page. Other outlets, including The Economist, Politico, NPR, and The Guardian, have published his work. His bio lists him as based in Tbilisi, Georgia.

Peter Juvenal, the other person named by Saleh, appears to be a former British soldier. According to a 2010 TIME story, he once helped Afghan insurgents fight against the Soviet-backed government in Kabul in the 1980s, then worked as a BBC cameraman, and later opened a restaurant in the Afghan capital.