Austrian national arrested in Afghanistan on charges of espionage

14 June, 2023 | Bhavnish Tawar

Afghanistan World

As per Austrian daily Der Standard cited by Khaama Press, the man was founder of National Democratic organisation, a minor far-right organisation banned in 1988.

An Austrian citizen, who had previously journeyed to Afghanistan earlier this year, has been arrested and is currently in custody in the country. Despite longstanding advisories from the Austrian government against such travels, the individual visited Afghanistan in May.

To safeguard privacy, no specific information regarding the detained person’s identity or other particulars has been revealed. However, the Austrian Foreign Ministry has assured that it is actively engaged in finding a resolution. They have been in regular communication with the individual’s family since becoming aware of the situation.

As per a report from the Austrian daily Der Standard, quoted by Khaama Press, a man in his 80s, identified as Herbert F, has been taken into custody for alleged spying. He is a veteran far-right extremist and co-founder of a minor far-right group called the National Democratic Organisation, which was banned in 1988.

It is reported that he had been under arrest for several weeks after a far-right journal published his article “Vacation with the Taliban,” in which he portrayed a positive image of life in Afghanistan under Taliban control. Austrian neo-Nazis have made their case public by disseminating information through Telegram channels.

The report quoted by Khaama Press also mentions that the man had a history of travelling to dangerous places, including Afghanistan in the 1980s and Kurdish forces fighting the ISIS group in northern Syria a few years ago.

In August 2021, Afghanistan witnessed a shift in power as the Taliban took control of the country after the previous government was overthrown and Western soldiers withdrew. However, the de facto authorities have not yet been acknowledged as the country’s legitimate government.

The international community has set certain conditions, as reported by Khaama Press, for recognition of the Taliban regime, including adherence to human rights and women’s rights, severing ties with terrorist organizations, curbing drug trafficking, and forming an inclusive government.