An American and an Australian professor who were kidnapped in Kabul five months ago have pleaded with US president-elect Donald Trump to help secure their release in a video released by the Taliban.
The video, uploaded to YouTube on Wednesday and apparently filmed on 1 January, is the first public sign of life of the two teachers since their abduction.
Kevin King, 60, an American, and Timothy John Weeks, 48, an Australian, were violently outside the campus of the American University of Afghanistan where they both taught.
In the 13-minute video, the pair – who are are visibly distraught and occasionally break into sobs – beg the American government to negotiate with their captors. The Taliban appear to have demanded the release of several “soldiers” in exchange for the professors.
“If we stay here for much longer, we will be killed. I don’t want to die here,” Weeks says in the video.
There was no indication of where the video had been filmed but it seemed timed to coincide with the current US presidential transition.
“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,” Weeks said, adding that he feared he would not see his gravely ill mother again.
The abduction of the two was part of a recent string of kidnappings of foreigners in Kabul, which included two other Australians. In August, an Australian aid worker, Kerry Jane Wilson, was released after four months in captivity. In November, another Australian woman was abducted. Her whereabouts are not publicly known.
Afghanistan hostage couple make video plea for 'Kafkaesque nightmare' to end
The footage released on Wednesday is reminiscent of another proof-of-life video released in late December, which showed a Canadian-American couple asking their government to negotiate their release.
American Caitlan Coleman and Canadian Joshua Boyle appeared in the video with their two children who were born during their four-year captivity, which they described as a “Kafkaesque nightmare”.
The couple were abducted in 2012 while backpacking through Wardak province and are believed to be held by the Taliban-aligned Haqqani group.
Last year, the Afghan government sentenced to death Anas Haqqani, the brother of the Taliban’s deputy leader. Some officials believe the group is trying to amass enough foreign hostages to swap for their captured commander.
The US government has previously acquiesced to Taliban demands of a prisoner swap. In 2014, the Haqqani group released Bowe Bergdahl, a US soldier, in exchange for five Taliban prisoners.
In last week, an American woman, Jane Larson, revealed that her 74-year-old husband, Paul Overby, had been abducted over two years ago while crossing into the eastern Afghan province of Khost from Pakistan, apparently in a bid to interview the Haqqani leader, Sirajuddin Haqqani, for a book.
US authorities have said they have no idea where he is being held.