The Taliban has released a harrowing video of kidnapped Wagga man Timothy Weeks, who was abducted in Kabul in August, pleading for the United States government to arrange a prisoner exchange before he is killed by the terrorist group.
The teacher, who was one of two people snatched near the American University campus in the Afghan capital on August 7, has been held hostage for almost five months.
The first public sign of Mr Weeks since that day came in a 13-minute video released on Youtube on Wednesday, allegedly shot by the Taliban on New Year’s Day.
Seated in front of a light backdrop, a visibly-distressed man identified himself as Timothy John Weeks, as well as the names of his parents.
“My name is Timothy John Weeks ... I am a teacher at the … American University in Kabul,” he said in the video.
“It’s the first of January. We are now here hostages of the Taliban. We have been here for five months.”
The Wagga man had been teaching high-level English at the American University of Afghanistan for less than a month when he was snatched, along with American Kevin King.
Mr Weeks directly addressed his parents, urging for his family to make contact with the American embassy, and pleaded with US president-elect Donald Trump to intervene.
"People have promised to take care of us and to help us when something went wrong and they have forsaken their promise," he said in the footage distributed on Youtube.
"We are here with no help and no hope. I don't want to die here alone.
"My mother, I know you are sick in hospital and I may never see you again. I ask Dad, please, I want to come home, please speak to the American government.
"If we stay here for much longer, we will be killed. I don't want to die here – I'm alone and I'm scared and I don't have anybody to help me.”
After the August kidnapping, American Navy SEALs stormed a Taliban compound in the mountains of eastern Afghanistan as part of an unsuccessful rescue mission.
The SEAL team, supported by American Army Rangers, engaged in a deadly gun battle with dozens of insurgents but reportedly missed the Wagga man by a matter of hours.
In the newly released video, Mr Weeks addressed Donald Trump directly, and said the Taliban has asked for prisoners held at Bagram Airfield and Pul-e-Charkhi prison to be exchanged for himself and Mr King.
"They are being held there illegally and the Taliban has asked for them to be released in our exchange. If they are not exchanged for us then we will be killed," he said.
"Donald Trump, sir, please, I ask you, please, this is in your hands.
"I ask you please to negotiate with the Taliban. If you do not negotiate with them, we will be killed.”
A spokesperson for the Department of Foreign Affairs said the Australian government “has been working with other governments to secure the release of an Australian man kidnapped in Afghanistan in August 2016”.
“We have also been providing consular support to the man’s family, who have requested privacy,” the spokesperson said.
“Out of respect for his family’s wishes, and in the interests of his own safety and well-being, we will not be commenting further.”
- This article was first published on The Daily Advertiser