Kidnapped teachers urge Trump to negotiate release with Taliban

Two university professors who were kidnapped in Kabul months ago pleaded with the U.S. government and president-elect Donald Trump to negotiate their release in a video released by the Taliban.

Timothy Weekes, an Australian, and Kevin King, an American, were kidnapped near the American University of Afghanistan in Kabul in August, 2016.

The video, the first public proof of life since their abduction, was uploaded to YouTube on Wednesday.

One of the captives said that the film was recorded on Jan. 1.

The authenticity of the video could not be independently verified.

They said they would be killed unless a prisoner exchange takes place.

“I don’t want to die here,” teary-eyed Weekes said in the video, asking his family members to speak for him to the American government to secure his release.

“If we stay here for much longer we will be killed, I am alone and I am scared,” Weekes said.

He said that he feared he would not see his ill mother who is in a hospital again.

“We are okay here but we need to go home,” King said in the video.

“We don’t know how long the Taliban will be patient with us.”

The duo also addressed the U.S. president-elect, due to take office next week, asking him to negotiate for an exchange with the Taliban prisoners held at Bagram air base and Pul-e-Charkhi prison.

“They are being held there illegally and the Taliban has asked for them to be released in our exchange.

“If they are not exchanged for us then we will be killed.

“Donald Trump, Sir, I ask you, please, this is in your hands, I ask you please to negotiate with the Taliban.

“If you do not negotiate with them, we will be killed,” Weekes said.

They sob a couple of times while pleading.

The American University of Afghanistan opened in 2006 and has more than 1,700 students.

It has been targeted in deadly attacks by the Taliban in the past.

The Pentagon confirmed in September it had tried to rescue the two teachers in a Special Forces operation in August, but the attempt came too late.

A spokesman for the Australian department of foreign affairs said the government did not want to comment on the video but was providing consular support to Weekes’ family.

“The Australian government has been working closely with other governments to secure the release of an Australian man kidnapped in Afghanistan in August 2016.

“Out of respect for his family’s wishes, and in the interests of his own safety and well-being, we will not be commenting further,” he said.

In recent years there has been string of kidnappings of Afghans and foreigners in Kabul.

At least three Australians were kidnapped in 2016.

In August, an Australian aid worker was released after four months in captivity.

The whereabouts of another Australian woman, kidnapped in November, is unknown.

In September, the Taliban released a video of another proof of life footage that showed a Canadian-American couple asking for help to negotiate their release.

The couple, who were kidnapped in 2012, has had two children born to them during captivity.

A foreign staff member of the International Committee of the Red Cross was kidnapped last month in Northern Province of Kunduz.

Last week, an American woman also told media her 74-year-old husband had been kidnapped more than two years ago while trying to secure an interview with a senior Taliban leader. dpa/NAN)

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