Taliban releases Austrian far-right activist, following mediation by Qatar | World News

KABUL: Herbert Fritz, an 84-year-old Austrian far-right activist who was detained in Afghanistan last May, has been released by the Taliban.
The Austrian government confirmed Fritz’s safe arrival in Doha, Qatar, with the help of the Qatari government. Fritz had been arrested for ignoring Austria’s travel advisory against visiting Afghanistan, which had fallen back under Taliban control in 2021.
Fritz expressed a desire to return to Afghanistan, calling his detention “bad luck.” He also mentioned encountering both friendly and foolish individuals during his captivity.
Prior to his arrest, Fritz had garnered attention for his positive reports on living conditions in Afghanistan. He even published an article titled “Vacations with the Taliban,” which contributed to arguments that the country was safe for refugees to return to.
The Taliban accused Fritz of spying, and his case gained traction among Austrian neo-Nazis through Telegram channels.
Since May, Austria’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs had been actively working on securing Fritz’s release and expressed gratitude to Qatar and the European Union representation in Kabul for their assistance. Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer acknowledged Qatar’s Emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, and his team for their strong support in bringing Fritz back to his family.
Herbert Fritz, identified as a founding member of Austria’s National Democratic Party (NDP), an extreme right group banned in 1988, had reportedly been researching a book in Afghanistan, according to the Freedom Party of Austria.
The party, currently leading in opinion polls ahead of parliamentary elections, had been advocating for Fritz’s release.
Qatar’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs thanked the caretaker government in Afghanistan for facilitating Fritz’s release.
“The State of Qatar has proven, regionally and globally, that it is a trusted international partner in various important issues,” the ministry said, adding, “It spares no effort in harnessing its energy and ability in the areas of mediation, preventive diplomacy, and settling disputes through peaceful means.”
( with input from agency)


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