Days after Afghanistan’s NDA detained 10 Chinese spies on charges of espionage and operating a terror cell in the capital city of Kabul, the government has released them secretly and allowed them to fly back home in a chartered flight. According to reports, the Chinese nationals flew out of Afghanistan in a plane arranged by Beijing on Saturday. Set free after 23 days in detention, the 10 Chinese nationals had not been formally charged.
Afghanistan asks China to ‘apologise or face criminal proceedings’
It is pertinent to note that the terms of the arrangement between Kabul and Beijing to secure the release of the 10 Chinese spies remains unclear. Interestingly, soon after the arrest, Kabul’s First Vice President had indicated that the Afghan government could consider a pardon for the Chinese spies if Beijing submits a formal apology that admits to the violation of international norms and a betrayal of Kabul’s trust. Otherwise, the Afghan government would go ahead with criminal proceedings against the 10 Chinese spies, he had said.
It was on December 10, 2020, that Afghanistan’s NDS started the crackdown. This was the first time in years that Chinese nationals had been caught spying in Afghanistan. The NDS had not only recovered explosives and other highly objectionable materials from these Chinese nationals but had also found proves which suggested that the kingpins of this espionage network had been meeting commanders of the Taliban-backed terror group Haqqani Network (HQN).
It was believed that Pakistan’s ISI has been acting as a mediator between Haqqani Network and these Chinese Intelligence agents.