Taliban May Free Christians

A Taliban official Aug. 22 predicted that two Americans and six others detained in Afghanistan on charges of proselytizing Muslims would be able to return home soon and would be allowed to bring in lawyers for their upcoming trial.

Abdul Hakeem Mujahid, the Taliban's liaison representative to the United Nations in New York, lashed out at the United States and the Western media for blowing out of proportion the case of eight foreign aid workers, who also include four Germans and two Australians.

"This case is not so serious, and the media are making an outcry," Mujahid said in a telephone interview with The Washington Times. He said the regime in Kabul wasn't very "strict" in applying Islamic law and added that neither the foreign workers nor the 16 Afghan citizens arrested on the same charges would be sentenced to death, as required by law.

Commenting on Mujahid's charges that the case has been blown out of proportion, a State Department official asked: "If they think it has been overblown, why don't they allow access to our citizens?" A U.S. official left Kabul on Aug. 21, after a week of futile efforts to communicate effectively with the Taliban.