Middlesbrough paramedic held by Taliban in good spirits as he could be freed within days

Credit - Family photos
The Presidium Network, which is supporting Mr Cornwell, said it is waiting patiently for a resolution. Credit: Family Pictures

The family of a Teesside paramedic held by the Taliban in Afghanistan are said to be relieved following a telephone call with him.

Kevin Cornwell, 53, from Middlesbrough has been held captive by the Taliban since January with another unnamed Brit.

In what was the first time Mr Cornwell had spoken to his family since his capture, Mr Cornwell was said to be in good spirits, upbeat and positive according to Scott Richards, co-founder of the Presidium Network.

The Presidium Network is a UK not-for-profit organisation that provides support to manage humanitarian issues and represent the needs of people affected to international-policy makers.

The charity has been supporting Mr Cornwell and his family whilst he is held by the Taliban.

Mr Cornwell and the other unnamed Brit were arrested at a hotel in Kabul when Afghan intelligence officers found a gun in Mr Cornwell's hotel room safe on January 11.

The Presidium Network said the pair have been held without charge since they were arrested.

Afghan officers accused Mr Cornwell - who works for a charity providing free local healthcare and liaises with the likes of the United Nations and Unicef - of having an unlicensed gun. The Presidium Network said the firearm was licensed and that the arrests were part of a misunderstanding.

Mr Richards told ITV News Tyne Tees that he could not disclose what was shared with him about the nature of the calls because of the families privacy, but said the fact Mr Cornwell was allowed an unscripted phone call where he could talk freely is a "significant development."

It is thought that there was previously a phone call between the men the Foreign Commonwealth Development Office, which was of scripted.

Mr Richard said the fact they were allowed a direct call with their families, even if brief, was a "truly unprecedented act."

He said: "This is an enormous step forward because in a hostage situation we would expect a scripted call, so this tell's us that they're [the Taliban] not looking to trade or use these people in any other conditions.

"It's an enormous act of good faith by the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan that we're thoroughly appreciative of."

Mr Cornwell - who works for a charity providing free local healthcare - has been held by the Taliban since January. Credit: Family Picture

The men are currently being held by the GDI which is an intelligence body within the Taliban.

Mr Richards continued: "To have people being held by a national security level body and able to make personal phone calls is hugely demonstrative of good will.

"We're enormously hopeful that in the next few days we will see movement forwards, possibly a resolution to this matter.

"We're observing closely but we're very careful with any information that pertains to that to makes sure that it's credible and reliable.

"With regards to release that really has to come from the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. We're just waiting patiently."

The Presidium Network has been in constant contact with the families of the captured men throughout the process.

Mr Richards confirmed to ITV News Tyne Tees that the men are not being mistreated, have been subject to torture or any untoward activities.

An FCDO spokesperson said: “We are working hard to secure consular contact with British nationals detained in Afghanistan and we are supporting families.”

It continues to advise against all travel to Afghanistan based on the security risks, including detention.

The UK no longer has an embassy or a consulate in Afghanistan following the Taliban's takeover of the country in August 2021.

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