Asia

Canadian Colin Rutherford freed from Taliban captivity

This still file image from a video released by the Taliban on May 8, 2011, purports to show Canadian Colin Rutherford in captivity Image copyright AP
Image caption The Taliban released a video announcing Colin Rutherford's capture in 2011

A Canadian captured by the Taliban in Afghanistan has been freed after more than five years in captivity.

Colin Rutherford was released on Monday, following efforts brokered by the Qatari government, Canadian Foreign Minister Stephane Dion said.

The Taliban announced the capture of Mr Rutherford in 2011, accusing him of being a spy. Mr Rutherford denied this, saying he was a tourist.

In a statement, the Taliban said he had been released on humanitarian grounds.

Mr Rutherford was freed on Monday morning in central Ghazni province, local police chief Aminullah Amarkhil said in quotes carried by AP.

He was flown out in a helicopter from the remote district of Giro, the police chief added.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Canadian Foreign Minister Stephane Dion said he was "very pleased" Mr Rutherford had been released

The Taliban said it had released Mr Rutherford out of humanitarian considerations.

There were no further details on Mr Rutherford's release and it is not clear how an agreement was reached.

The Taliban have freed other Western hostages in recent years

  • US Sgt Bowe Bergdahl was released by the Afghan Taliban in 2015 as part of a controversial exchange for five Taliban officials being held at Guantanamo Bay
  • French journalist Herve Ghesquiere, who was freed in 2011 after 18 months in captivity, told the BBC he believed the Taliban had released him as part of a deal involving money and prisoners - but the French and Afghan governments denied this

Monday's release came as Afghan, Pakistani, Chinese and US officials met for talks aimed at establishing a roadmap for peace between the Afghan government and the Taliban.

Peace talks between them collapsed last year after news emerged that Taliban leader Mullah Omar had in fact died in 2013.

His deputy Mullah Mansour was declared leader in July but a number of senior Taliban commanders refused to pledge allegiance to him and set up a rival faction.

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