Europe

Evacuated Afghan arrested in France over possible Taliban link

French authorities have arrested an evacuated Afghan citizen on suspicion of links to the Taliban.

Five Afghanistan nationals in total were placed under surveillance after they were repatriated to France earlier this month.

On Tuesday, French government spokesman Gabriel Attal confirmed that one man has been placed in custody over possible extremist links.

The suspect was connected to an Afghan national “who helped saved lives” and evacuate French citizens and embassy workers from Kabul “at a time that was incredibly tense,” Attal told BFMTV.

An investigation is underway to establish if the suspect has links with the Taliban.

The man was arrested on Monday after breaking his “administrative control measures,” the Paris prosecutor added.

French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin has also said that the man only left his guarded zone “for a few minutes”.

Darmanin told French media that there were “no loopholes” in the surveillance of Afghans repatriated to France.

“We wanted all Afghans who left Kabul to pass through the French military base in Abu Dhabi” to be checked by the French security services, he said in an interview with FranceInfo.

“We know all the people who arrived on our soil, brought back by the French army,” he added.

On their arrival in France, five Afghans were notified that they had been placed under surveillance by the Directorate General of Internal Surveillance (DGSI). The four other individuals are linked to the suspect who was arrested on Monday.

Meanwhile, a new flight of French evacuees from Kabu landed in Paris at dawn on Tuesday, with 205 evacuees on board, including 204 Afghans.

France has brought more than 2,000 back to Europe, via Abu Dhabi, since last week, with another flight expected to arrive in Paris later on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, across the channel, UK defence secretary Ben Wallace spoke to UK broadcaster Sky News about reports that an individual evacuated from Afghanistan was on the UK’s no-fly list.

Wallace said he “wouldn’t be as alarmed” as some headlines had made out after reports emerged someone had arrived in the UK from the no-fly watchlist.

Defending the system, Wallace said it had “many subdivisions” which flagged individuals who needed further checks, but that didn’t always mean they were dangerous.

“It could be this individual, and this is speculation about this particular individual, but it could be it’s no-fly until they’re checked,” he said.

“It could be, you know, lots of different conditions before they fly. It’s not necessarily you are that dangerous, you can’t come on an airplane.”

He added it was “a plus” the process flagging the individual had worked.

Wallace also said more than 2,000 people have been evacuated from Kabul over the past 24 hours bringing the total number of people removed from the country since August 14 to 8,600.

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