Afghanistan: Taliban thought former British soldier was like James Bond and held him in Guantanamo Bay-style jail
A former British soldier, who was arrested in Afghanistan last month, told Sky News that the Taliban thought he was a British spy and held him in a jail which resembled Guantanamo Bay.
Ben Slater, who ran Nomad Concepts Group from Kabul, was detained by the Taliban while trying to help hundreds of Afghans leave the country.
He was allowed to fly out of Kabul to the Qatari capital of Doha on 5 October, on a special flight that was arranged by the Qatari government to transport two senior British diplomats in and out of the country, according to a UK government source.
Speaking from Doha, Mr Slater told Sky News the conditions during the first two weeks of his detention were “pretty bad” and the cell was hot and crowded.
“They’d obviously picked up on the fact that I was ex-military and that led to them thinking I was like a James Bond type character,” he said.
“As soon as that was mentioned, that I was possibly MI5, I lost all my rights and my dignity for a couple of weeks.
“There were some, you know, aggressive actions. The jail cell was basically on a par with Guantanamo Bay.”
He added that he was completely isolated for two weeks, with no way to communicate with the outside world and there were aggressive actions, including a few beatings.
“At that point, for me, it was pretty dire because I knew it wasn’t good and I was in the same jail as figures from IS and Daesh,” he said.
Mr Slater said once the Taliban realised that he was not a spy, the conditions were much better.
The former soldier praised the “fantastic” Home Office and Foreign Office, who helped negotiate his release.
“I was like a Trojan horse to maybe start the dialogue. The British ambassador has done a fantastic job in Doha and obviously Sir Simon Gass and the deputy ambassador for Afghanistan put a very creative plan in place to get me to Islamabad,” he said.
He added that while he managed to help 112 people get out of Afghanistan, there are still people stuck in the country.
Mr Slater has appealed to countries including the UK, Canada, Australia and the United States to help evacuate those still in Afghanistan.
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