Captive Professors Call for Release of Taliban Prisoners in Exchange for their Freedom
By Rory Geoghegan | Jan 30 2017IN a video released by the Taliban on Wednesday the 11th of January, two American University of Afghanistan professors called on the US government to free Taliban fighters. The two professors, Kevin King, an American, and Tim Weeks, an Australian national, were kidnapped at gunpoint outside of the university’s compound in Kabul on August 7th last year.A few weeks after the kidnapping, on the 24th of August, Taliban fighters launched a coordinated gun and bomb attack on the university compound, killing a dozen people and leaving scores more injured.In the footage, the professors are visibly shaken, crying as they make their appeal. “We have been here for five months; the people who promised to take care of us have forsaken their promise; we are here with no help or hope. The American University of Afghanistan and the US government have sent representatives to talk to the Taliban, but they could not reach an agreement,” Weeks says. In the video, the two men can be seen wearing traditional Afghan clothing, having also grown beards.
"We have been here for five months; the people who promised to take care of us have forsaken their promise; we are here with no help or hope"Throughout the video the men plead with their governments to cooperate with the Taliban for the release of insurgent prisoners in exchange for their freedom. “We have been here for a while and we haven’t heard anything,” said Mr. King, who is now 60 years old.A press statement by the American University of Afghanistan has called “on the Taliban to release immediately and safely Kevin and Tim and all other hostages.” The university also noted that it was “pained by what we have seen in the video the Taliban released using our colleagues”, and that “these innocent people have done nothing to harm anyone and need to be reunited with their family, friends and colleagues.”The video is the first public confirmation by the Taliban that they are holding the two professors. Last September, there was an unsuccessful attempt by US special forces to rescue the professors, the failure of which led many to criticise former President Obama’s handling of the situation.The university remains closed due to continuing security concerns, however it is expected to re-open in March of this year. It is yet unclear whether any negotiations to free the captives are underway at the present time.