Wife of British charity medic taken prisoner by the Taliban makes heartbreaking appeal to see her husband ‘one last time’ as fears grow over his health after being arrested in January
- Kelly Cornwell plans to travel to Afghanistan capital Kabul to see her husband
- She said it may be ‘perhaps one last time’ amid fears for her husband’s health
The wife of a British charity medic being held prisoner by the Taliban plans to travel to Afghanistan capital Kabul to see her husband ‘perhaps one last time’ amid growing fears for his health.
Distraught Kelly Cornwell told The Mail on Sunday her husband Kevin, 53, is at serious risk of dying from a kidney condition that has gone untreated since he was arrested in January.
‘We’re at the point of distress, where I am considering that I myself may have to travel to Kabul to try to see my husband perhaps one last time because he could very well die in Taliban custody,’ she said.
The UK Foreign Office advises against all travel to Afghanistan, which it describes as ‘extremely dangerous’ following the Taliban’s takeover two years ago.
But Mrs Cornwell, 48, said she was willing to make the trip to make a direct plea to his captors. She said: ‘We’ve known since the first day of Kevin’s detention that his health would present a risk to his life.
Kelly Cornwell pictured with her husband Kevin before his arrest. She said Kevin was at serious risk of dying from a kidney condition that has gone untreated since he was arrested in January
‘For us to come out and make a personal appeal for Kevin’s release on humanitarian grounds meant we had to put into words things that we feared – we’ve had to face the possibility that my husband Kevin could die in Kabul.
‘We haven’t had any direct contact with Kevin since our last call. No medical information has come out of Kabul that we can verify.’
The couple, who have been married for 22 years, have seven children and 17 grandchildren.
She added: ‘The simple fact is he was in Afghanistan to help ordinary Afghan people, especially children, with medical support. And in return, he’s locked up for almost six months without charge.’
The Taliban’s secret police arrested Mr Cornwell and an unnamed British hotel manager in a raid on a hotel for western aid workers in January.
The pair have been accused of working as spies after a handgun was found in Mr Cornwell’s room, despite the fact Mr Cornwell had a licence for it from the Taliban regime.
The ex-British Army medic was working in the country for Iqarus, a UK-based medical organisation that works on United Nations healthcare missions in Afghanistan.
Also in Taliban custody is a British ‘danger tourist’ Miles Routledge, 23, who has been detained separately from the other men. The UK Government has had contact with the men but there are no formal diplomatic channels with the Islamist regime that retook power in August 2021.
Kevin Cornwell was detained along with an unnamed British hotel manager following a raid at Afghanistan’s Darya Village Hotel on January 11
The Taliban has allowed Mr Cornwell to make three phone calls home since his arrest. The last one was more than a month ago when he said he was in pain with kidney issues.
Scott Richards, of the British non-profit organisation Presidium Network, which works in conflict zones worldwide, is helping the Cornwell family negotiate his release.
Recent conflicts within the Taliban leadership could be complicating attempts to secure his return.
Mr Richards said a lengthy meeting of the Taliban leadership, taking place in the southern city of Kandahar where the top leaders are based, ‘has impacted our ability to communicate and understand the present perception towards the release of Kevin and the unnamed man’.
A Foreign Office spokesman said: ‘We have spoken to the three British nationals detained in Afghanistan and are supporting families. We continue to raise their cases with the Taliban.’
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