Taliban Deny Access to Detained Aid Workers
Thursday, November 01, 2001 3:20 PM EST
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Taliban rulers of Afghanistan have denied access this week to eight Western aid workers on trial for trying to preach Christianity, the State Department said on Thursday.
The Pakistani lawyer representing the workers -- two Americans, two Australians and four Germans -- sent a colleague to Kabul last weekend to visit them in detention and check up on the case, spokesman Richard Boucher said.
The colleague was not allowed to meet with the detainees but was informed that they were safe. ``He was informed of this by officials at the detention center where they are being held,'' Boucher said.
The lawyer, Atif Ali Khan, and the U.S. consul general in Islamabad are trying to have the detainees sent a care package and some letters by the end of the week, he added.
Afghanistan's Supreme Court said last week that it could not hold regular sessions in the trial of the aid workers because of the chaos caused by the U.S. air strikes.
The eight foreigners, who worked for the German-based charity Shelter Now International, have been held for more than two months, along with 16 Afghan colleagues, on charges of promoting Christianity.
The group's detained director, Georg Taubmann, denied the charges before the supreme court last month, saying they had not converted a single Afghan Muslim to Christianity.
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