Berlin (AP) — An Austrian man is being held in Afghanistan after he traveled to the country earlier this year, the Austrian Foreign Ministry said Tuesday.
The ministry confirmed in an emailed response to a query about the case that the man went to Afghanistan in May and was arrested there. It noted that Austria has long warned against travel to Afghanistan.
It didn’t identify the man or give further details, citing data protection issues, but said that it has been “actively seeing a solution” since it became aware of the arrest and is in regular contact with his family.
The Austrian daily Der Standard, which first reported on the case, said the man is a veteran far-right extremist in his 80s and was a co-founder of a minor far-right party that was banned in 1988, the National Democratic Party.
It said that he has been in custody for a few weeks, since shortly after a far-right magazine published an article he wrote titled “Vacation with the Taliban” in which he gave a positive view of life in Afghanistan under Taliban rule. According to the report, he is accused of spying and Austrian neo-Nazis made his case public via Telegram channels.
The Taliban seized Afghanistan in August 2021 as U.S. and NATO troops were in the final weeks of their pullout from the country after 20 years of war.
According to Der Standard, the Austrian — whom it identified only as Herbert F. — has been a keen traveler to dangerous locations, visiting Afghanistan in the 1980s and, a few years ago, visiting Kurds fighting against the Islamic State group in northern Syria