Retreating British Embassy Left Behind Afghan Staff’s Paperwork for Taliban to Read

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WAKIL KOHSAR/AFP via Getty Images

The British embassy in Kabul left the information of Afghan staffers and job applicants “scattered on the ground” for the Taliban to find, according to reports.

Papers identifying seven people were found at the now-Taliban controlled compound by journalists at The Times — it is unknown how many similar papers may be awaiting discovery, or have already been discovered — including phone numbers, with reporters able to call them up and find themselves connected to former staffers.

Some of the people contacted by the newspaper were still in Taliban-controlled territory, having been unable to get into Kabul airport for evacuation — despite the fact that at least one individual on Britain’s ‘no-fly’ list has been evacuated seemingly in error, and that British border officials have told The Telegraph that some of the evacuees showing up in are arriving “with forged papers & with no documentation“.

The Times agreed to hold back publication of its story for 24 hours while the Foreign and Commonwealth Office attempted to rescue the individuals in question, with a source telling the newspaper that they were “grateful to [them] for sharing the information retrieved with us and working with us to enable us to get these three families to safety.”

“Crucially we have now been able to get these three families to safety”, a spokesman for Britain’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office told Reuters on Thursday night.

“The drawdown of our Embassy was done at pace as the situation in Kabul deteriorated. Every effort was made to destroy sensitive material”, the spokesman claimed — although with the Western withdrawal from Afghanistan having been planned for months and British embassies having centuries of experience destroying sensitive documents, the fact that identifying information and contact details for at-risk individuals was left “scattered on the ground” is damning.

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