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Monday, 27 August, 2001, 18:47 GMT 19:47 UK
Jailed Kabul aid workers 'well'
Diplomats travelling to Islamabad airport to travel to Kabul
The diplomats were taken immediately to see the prisoners
Diplomats who have met eight Western aid workers being held in Afghanistan for allegedly preaching Christianity say they appear to have been well-treated.


They looked well and they said they were well-treated

US diplomat David Donohue
Consular access had been denied since their arrests in early August. Two American women being held were also seen by their parents.

"We have not heard any complaints from them," US diplomat David Donahue told reporters after a two-hour meeting. "I think all of them looked well, physically and emotionally."

Mother of detainee Dana Curry and father of Heather Mercer
An agonising three-week wait is over
The group had flown into Kabul on a special UN flight earlier on Monday after the ruling Taleban granted visas for the visit.

Access is still being denied to 16 Afghan workers also being held.

The aid workers - two Americans, two Australians and four Germans - who were working for the charity Shelter Now, have denied the charges against them.

Isolated

They have not been seen in public since they were arrested on 5 August although four officials from the International Committee for the Red Cross (ICRC) were allowed to see them on Sunday, when they delivered messages from their families.

The ICRC staff included both English and German speakers so the detainees could speak to someone in their mother tongue.

Food handover
On a previous visit, diplomats were only allowed to hand over food for the prisoners
Diplomats suspected the Taleban were keeping the aid workers isolated to pressurise them into confessing.

BBC Afghanistan correspondent Kate Clarke says concern is growing, however, over the fate of the 16 Afghans being held.

Under the law the foreigners face a short prison term followed by deportation for the crime of trying to persuade an Afghan to renounce Islam.

But the law for Afghans is much stricter. It stipulates death for anyone who converts as well as for the person who instigated the conversion.

Our correspondent says that, unlike the Westerners, the local detainees lack any international voice to plead their case.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
BBC's Afghanistan Correspondent Kate Clark
"It's been a grim time for relatives"
See also:

18 Aug 01 | South Asia
Taleban advise diplomats to leave
14 Aug 01 | South Asia
Taleban deny access to aid detainees
12 Aug 01 | South Asia
Taleban 'investigate' aid workers
09 Aug 01 | South Asia
Taleban ease foreigner restrictions
03 Aug 98 | South Asia
Analysis: Who are the Taleban?
25 Aug 01 | From Our Own Correspondent
Modern missionaries
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