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The Taliban release an 84-year-old Austrian man who was detained in Afghanistan last year

This is a locator map for Afghanistan with its capital, Kabul. (AP Photo)

This is a locator map for Afghanistan with its capital, Kabul. (AP Photo)

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VIENNA (AP) 鈥 An 84-year-old Austrian man who traveled to Afghanistan last year and was arrested there was released by the country鈥檚 Taliban rulers, the Austrian government said Sunday.

The Austrian Foreign Ministry in a statement identified the man as Herbert Fritz and said he arrived in Doha, Qatar from Afghanistan on Sunday afternoon. If necessary, he will be given medical treatment before continuing on to Austria, it said.

A spokeswoman for the Austrian Foreign Ministry told the Associated Press that Fritz had been held in a prison in Kabul. He was not immediately available for comment.

Writing on X, formerly Twitter, Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer thanked the Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani and his team for their 鈥渟trong support in releasing one of our citizens from prison in Afghanistan.鈥

鈥淚t is only due to our trusted collaboration that this Austrian citizen will be able to return home to his daughter and grandchildren,鈥 Nehammer said.

Qatar鈥檚 Foreign Affairs ministry released a statement on X expressing gratitude to the 鈥渃aretaker government in Afghanistan鈥 for releasing the Austrian.

鈥淭he State of Qatar has proven, regionally and globally, that it is a trusted international partner in various important issues, and it spares no effort in harnessing its energy and ability in the areas of mediation, preventive diplomacy, and settling disputes through peaceful means ... ,鈥 it said.

Austrian newspaper Der Standard reported last year that an Austrian man had been arrested in Afghanistan and that he was a veteran far-right extremist and co-founder of a minor far-right party that was banned in 1988, the National Democratic Party.

It said he had been in custody for a few weeks, since shortly after a far-right magazine published an article he wrote titled 鈥淰acation with the Taliban鈥 in which he gave a positive view of life in Afghanistan under Taliban rule. According to the report, he was accused of spying and Austrian neo-Nazis made his case public via Telegram channels.

The Taliban have barred women from most areas of public life and stopped girls from going to school beyond the sixth grade as part of harsh measures they imposed after taking control of the country in 2021, despite initially promising more moderate rule. The Taliban seized Afghanistan as U.S. and NATO troops were in the final weeks of their pullout from the country after 20 years of war.

According to Der Standard, the Austrian has been a keen traveler to dangerous locations, visiting Afghanistan in the 1980s and, a few years ago, visiting Kurds fighting against the Islamic State group in northern Syria.

Austrian officials said Fritz arrived in Afghanistan last May.

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Associated Press writer Yesica Fisch in Jerusalem contributed.