British man being held by the Taliban at risk of dying from kidney issues, charity warns

Kevin Cornwell, 53, one of the three British men being held in Afghanistan is seriously unwell and in need of immediate hospital treatment due to “life-threatening” kidney issues, according to a non-profit group negotiating with the Taliban on his behalf, The National reports.

Scott Richards, co-founder of the UK-based Presidium Network, which is negotiating for two of the three men, told The National that Mr Cornwell is receiving “some degree of pain relief,” but only recently became aware of the severity of his condition.

“Both kidneys are in poor state, but his right kidney was meant to receive hospital treatment, and without doing so will occlude,” he said. “Occlusion will lead to sepsis which would be fatal. Mr Cornwell is anticipated to require immediate hospital treatment subsequent to his release.”

Mr Cornwell and an unnamed manager of a hotel for aid workers in Kabul were arrested following a search of their rooms in the Darya Village hotel in Kabul in January, when a pistol was discovered in a safe. The owner had a licence, which was produced.

“Over the past few weeks we have systematically addressed statements coming from Afghanistan, some understood to be official and others speculative,” said Mr Richards. “We demonstrated first that Mr Cornwell worked for the UN and was a paramedic in response to statements that he was a journalist and in Afghanistan on other purposes.

“Last week we issued the license for the weapon along with a photograph of the pistol where serial numbers match. We have demonstrated consistently and supported by evidence that this is a misunderstanding.”

Mr Cornwell and the hotel manager, who wishes to remain anonymous, are being held alongside self-professed “danger tourist” Miles Routledge. He recently returned to Afghanistan after being evacuated during a holiday in the country in 2021 when the Taliban returned to power.

Mr Routledge, 23, was reportedly arrested in March by Taliban fighters along with two Polish citizens. In a post on social media, he said he had been arrested for withdrawing $1,000 from Western Union.

YouTuber, known as “danger tourist”, Miles Routledge.

He has gained notoriety by travelling to dangerous countries and posting about it online. The Presidium Network is not acting as a negotiator on his behalf.

The Presidium Network is working to secure the release of all three men. They have been in contact with the Taliban and have provided evidence that Mr Cornwell and the hotel manager are not criminals.

Mr Richards said that the situation is “very serious” and that Mr Cornwell’s health is deteriorating. He urged the Taliban to release the men immediately.

“We are now in a very different situation, where a misunderstanding is now directly life threatening, and the potential death of a foreign national over a misunderstanding, who was on a humanitarian mission, would have a severe impact on the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan.”

The Taliban has not yet responded to the Presidium Network’s requests.