Former BBC journalist detained in Afghanistan by Taliban

Andrew North, the former South Asia correspondent, has been captured along with several others.

11 February 2022

A former BBC journalist has been detained along with a number of other people by the Taliban in Afghanistan.

The PA news agency understands Andrew North, who previously was the South Asia correspondent for the broadcaster, has been held with several others by the militant group.

Former Afghan vice president Amrullah Saleh tweeted that Mr North has been “kidnapped” along with eight others from Western countries.

His tweet said: “Due to no media, no reporting by citizens & a suffocating atmosphere, corruption, crime & atrocities aren’t well exposed. As an example nine citizens of western countries have been kidnapped amongst them Andrew North of BBC & Peter Juvenal owner of Gandomak Restaurant. Talibs are liars.”

It is thought that Mr North is working for United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Kabul as a contractor.

Articles from his website show despatches from the country over the last few months since the Taliban launched its takeover of the nation in August. A recent piece for BBC Radio 4 by North documented farmers returning to Marjah in Helmand province sowing opium poppy.

It is not clear when Mr North was detained. He has not posted on his Twitter feed since February 3.

Local news outlet Afghanistan International also reported that he has been taken by the Taliban.

The Washington Post reported that a member of a Taliban intelligence unit in Kabul said “several foreign nationals” were arrested in Kabul on charges of working for Western intelligence agencies.

When approached for comment, a spokeswoman for the BBC directed PA to a tweet posted by the BBC’s executive editor of world news content, Paul Danahar.

His tweet said: “Andrew North is working for the UN in Kabul. He is a former colleague and a respected journalist. All inquiries about his situation, which his friends and colleagues are obviously concerned about, should be directed to the UN.”

A spokesperson for the UNHCR said: “Two journalists on assignment with UNHCR and Afghan nationals working with them have been detained in Kabul. We are doing our utmost to resolve the situation, in coordination with others. We will make no further comment given the nature of the situation.”

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