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Wife of American detained by Taliban fears for his well-being

The wife of an American detained in Afghanistan is deeply concerned about her husband’s well-being, and pleading for the chance to tell President Joe Biden about the urgency of his case.

Ryan Corbett, who has been detained by the Taliban since August 2022, was able to call his wife Anna and their children earlier this week.

“It was a disturbing call,” Anna Corbett told CNN Thursday. “It was hard to hear Ryan losing hope. He’s been held now almost 600 days and he had a change in his mindset about it.”

This was the fifth call her husband was able to make from detention, and Anna Corbett said there was a marked difference between his demeanor on the last call in late February and the most recent one.

His physical health has been in decline, Anna Corbett described, “and now that his mental health is going down, it’s just super scary for the kids and I.”

She has met with officials from the State Department and the National Security Council, as well as US lawmakers, but Anna Corbett told CNN Thursday that she would like to meet with Biden to press the urgency of the situation.

“I would tell him Ryan has done nothing wrong. All he did was go help the Afghan people, and our family desperately needs him. And Ryan is in danger. His health is declining. His mental health is declining. And he is still alive but we don’t know how long and we need to bring him back home immediately,” she said.

Ryan and Anna Corbett and their three children had lived in Afghanistan for more than a decade prior to the collapse of the Afghan government, doing non-governmental organization work. Amid the Taliban takeover, the family was evacuated in August 2021. Ryan Corbett returned twice in 2022, and on his second trip, he was detained by the Taliban. To the family’s knowledge, he has not been charged with any crimes.

Ryan Corbett has been declared wrongfully detained by the US State Department. Anna Corbett told CNN she wants to see the US government do more to put pressure on the Taliban to release her husband.

US officials regularly say that the loved ones of those detained overseas do not need to meet with the president for work to be done on their cases, and that bringing home Americans who are wrongfully detained abroad is a top priority.

State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said Thursday that he “cannot imagine the pain that they’re going through, and the grief that they’re suffering, and how difficult it must be knowing that their loved one is going through such a tragic hardship.”

“What I can say to the family and what I can say to the American public on behalf of this government is that we are working every day to try and bring Ryan Corbett home,” Miller said at a briefing. “We have continually pressed, including in our meetings with Taliban representatives, for the immediate and unconditional release of Ryan Corbett and other Americans detained in Afghanistan.”

“We have made clear to the Taliban that these detentions are a significant obstacle to positive engagement and we will continue to do that. We are using every lever we can to try to bring Ryan and these other wrongfully detained Americans home from Afghanistan,” he said.

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