UK apologises to Afghanistan as British nationals are released

UK Foreign Office. Editorial credit: William Barton /

The British government has apologised to Afghanistan, renounced violence in the country and said there is no alternative to pragmatic engagement with the current Islamic administration.

The statement came as five British nationals were released by Afghan authorities, including 66 year old former BBC cameraman Peter Jouvenal.

The Foreign Office said: “We welcome and appreciate the release by the current administration of Afghanistan of five British nationals who were detained in Afghanistan.

“These British nationals had no role in the UK government’s work in Afghanistan and travelled to Afghanistan against the UK government’s travel advice. This was a mistake.

“On behalf of the families of the British nationals, we express their apologies for any breach of Afghan culture, customs or laws, and offer their assurance of future good conduct. The UK government regrets this episode.”

The day before, Hugo Shorter, the UK chargé d’affaires for Afghanistan, said: “The UK does not support anyone, including Afghan nationals, seeking to achieve political change through violence, or any activity inciting violence for political purposes, in Afghanistan, and will not allow UK soil to be used to plan or prepare it, and we strongly discourage others from doing so.

“Violence of any kind is not in Afghanistan’s interests, nor the international community’s, and we deplore terrorist attacks of all kinds.

“To promote peace and stability, to deliver essential humanitarian support to the Afghan people, and to address shared concerns on security, there is no alternative to engaging pragmatically with the current administration of Afghanistan, and that is what we are doing.”

Peter Jouvenal was arrested by Afghan authorities in Kabul six months ago. The Foreign Office said it would not be releasing the names of any of the other people who had been released, but confirmed that no other Britons were still in detention.

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss tweeted: “Pleased the UK has secured the release of 5 British nationals detained in Afghanistan. They will soon be reunited with their families. I am grateful for the hard work of British diplomats to secure this outcome.”

Islamic Emirate leaders have not yet commented officially, but an IEA intelligence officer told the Washington Post that most were arrested on suspicion of espionage or involvement in human trafficking.

According to the Washington Post, the senior IEA member said the foreign nationals “were detained for breaching the law and violating Afghan culture.”

The IEA officer said the release of the detainees was good news and that “we are not aiming to detain foreign nationals.”

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