An Afghani man who was recently flown from Kabul to Paris has been detained by French police over suspected links to the Taliban and after failing to comply with a quarantine order, authorities confirmed.
French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin announced on Tuesday that among five Afghan refugees who had been placed under strict surveillance by the General Directorate for Internal Security (DGSI), one refugee left the monitoring place “for a few minutes” and was taken into custody for questioning.
“There was indeed one who was obviously linked to the Taliban,” Darmanin said on news broadcaster France Info, adding that the refugee assisted the French military in evacuating journalists and French nationals out of Kabul.
“He helped us get the French out, journalists, 100 Afghans who were able to come on to our soil because they helped the French,” he said. “Because we suspect that this person with his family, his friends has or had links with the Afghan Taliban government, we decided to put him under surveillance.”
The refugee has admitted to belonging to the Taliban and to bearing arms at a blockade in Kabul that was under his responsibility. The four other evacuees are also believed to be linked to him, though no details were provided on those allegations.
The five men were requested to stay in a hotel in the Paris region for a quarantine, like all evacuees who arrive in France without having been fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
Numerous officials have since criticized the French government for assisting the Afghani man with clear Taliban links, despite intelligence information being acquired that he had previously helped the designated terrorist group.
Xavier Bertrand, president of the regional council of Hauts-de-France and candidate for the 2022 French presidential elections, said the government has to publicly explain “what would prevent these individuals from being expelled in absolute urgency.”
Éric Ciotti, a member of the French National Assembly for the Republicans (LR), called on authorities to “control repatriation much more severely.”
“The fifth column risk is there. The Taliban can send their soldiers to France in the flood of refugees,” Ciotti wrote on Twitter. “Our own transport planes cannot become the Trojan horse of the Taliban.”
Darmanin said security checks were completed in Abu Dhabi, where the French have transferred evacuees before the onward journey to Paris, noting that “there was no breach.”
In total, over 1,000 Afghans, almost 100 French, and more than 40 people from other nationalities were evacuated by France over the past week, authorities said.
Amid a turbulent withdrawal and looming evacuation deadline, security failures on evacuees that were flown out of Kabul have been reported in Britain, and other countries.
The UK said on Monday that an individual on a “no-fly” list had been flown from Afghanistan to Britain on a British military plane as part of evacuation efforts, saying that person was no longer considered a risk.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.