After a legal battle, ex-BBC journalists from Afghanistan may be evacuated to the UK

A plane is surrounded by troops as people line up near it in the airport

After a judge ordered ministers to reconsider their situation, eight Afghan journalists who worked for the BBC may be evacuated to the UK.

After being left behind during the August 2021 British withdrawal, the group has spent more than a year in hiding in Afghanistan.

One year after the applications were submitted, ministers had rejected their cases.

One of the group members claimed on Monday that the Taliban had already attempted to shoot him because they thought he was a spy.

The eight journalists had all spent a significant amount of time covering Afghanistan for the BBC. On initiatives like media training and democracy, some of them had also collaborated more closely with the British government. But as the Taliban consolidated power, threats against them and their families increased.

One of the journalists had a bomb placed under their car, another was shot in public, severely injuring a family member, two others had been interrogated, and they had all been subjected to torture because of their work for the BBC, it was revealed in court testimony.

21,000 Afghans and their families, including locals who were employed by British media organizations, have been evacuated by the British government since August 2021.

However, the BBC left out all eight when those lists were created.

People crowded outside Kabul airport
Chaos ensued outside Kabul's Hamid Karzai International Airport during the mass exodus.

Their requests for assistance went unanswered for a year, according to the group's attorney Erin Alock.

The BBC did not recommend the British for evacuation when they left Kabul because they were not working at the time, she claimed.

"They were forgotten. However, their efforts did contribute to British objectives in Afghanistan, which went beyond merely military ones. They included activities like advancing democracy. ".

When their applications were finally given consideration, ministers decided not to resettle any of them because investigators found that their jobs weren't specifically related to UK operations. .

Those rejections, according to a judge on Monday, did not consider how the Taliban viewed the BBC and anyone connected to it.

There was a "more than fanciful prospect" that the eight would have been permitted to enter the UK had government caseworkers recognized this risk, according to Mr. Justice Lane.

On Monday, one of the group, who had been fired upon by a Taliban gunman in the street, thanked the judge for taking action. Due to the possibility of identifying him, the BBC is not disclosing any specific threats he has faced.

"We have regularly changed our house - my children have been to different schools," he said.

"The Taliban authorities are pursuing journalists and human rights advocates day after day. The BBC is viewed by them as a spy organization and the enemy.

"Like me, other national journalists who have worked with international media have experienced severe treatment at the hands of the Taliban authorities.

Anyone of us who has worked with the British or American media is seriously in danger.

"I simply want to thank the judge for overturning this judgment. ".

The group hopes that the ministers' decision to give each case a 21-day review will result in their evacuation.

A comment from the government has been requested.

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