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"I never, ever gave up hope." Timothy Weeks on being held hostage for 3 years by the Taliban.

Australian teacher Timothy Weeks has opened up about his “long and tortuous” three years being held hostage by the Taliban in Afghanistan.

In 2016, the Australian academic from NSW’s Wagga Wagga was grabbed outside Kabul’s American University alongside his American colleague Kevin King. He was subsequently held captive by the Taliban in Afghanistan.

This year the two were released in exchange for three members of the Taliban’s Haqqani network, an offshoot responsible for several fatal Afghan attacks.

Timothy Weeks arrived in Sydney on Friday and has since revealed the horrific conditions he was subjected to.

Timothy Weeks’ life in Afghanistan

“The time that I spent as a hostage with the Taliban has had a profound and unimaginable effect on me,” Weeks told the media in Sydney on Sunday, flanked by his sisters Jo and Alyssa Carter.

The 50-year-old spent lengthy periods in the dark in tiny, windowless cells at remote locations that offered little diet variation and no access to adequate medical treatment.

“Life as I had known it ceased to exist,” Weeks said.

“At times I felt as if my death was imminent and that I would never return to see those that I love again but by the will of God I am here, I am alive and I am safe and I am a free,” he said, his voice breaking. “There is nothing else in the world that I need.”

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He continued: “Kevin and I were held and moved around various locations in Afghanistan and Pakistan, our lives at risk on a daily basis, at the mercy of our captors.”

Despite the gravity of what he endured, Weeks said he never lost hope, saying that he “knew that I would leave that place eventually”.

“I never ever gave up hope and I think in that sort of situation, if you give up hope, there is very little left for you,” he said.

He added that he bore no hatred towards his captors, even respecting some of them whom he described as “compassionate, lovely”.

Moments earlier Weeks had parted with his Taliban guards, even hugging some of them as they wished him well.

The rescue attempts

Speaking of previous rescue attempts, Weeks said “a number of times they missed us only by hours”.

One particular attempt in April had Weeks fearing for his life as his captors brought him into an underground tunnel in the early hours of the morning, telling him Daesh (IS) had arrived, when in fact it was the Navy Seals “right outside our door”.

Machine gun fire raged above and he at one point lost consciousness, having been pushed backwards and rolled into the tunnel.

It would be another nine months before he’d finally become a free man.

“After almost 1200 days, our ordeal ended as abruptly as it had began, and a Black Hawk helicopter lifted me from the parched soils of Afghanistan,” he said, describing the moment he was led to freedom.

The experience has left him feeling “stronger”, with a belief that he can get through anything.

“It’s given me a great sense of hope and a great sense of confidence,” he said.

His sister Alyssa Carter said the emotional family reunion after almost 1200 days was “incredible”, while Jo Carter said what her brother had been through was “unimaginable”.

He asked for privacy for his family, saying the ordeal had especially taken a toll on his father. He added that he hopes to return to academic study in the future but will take a well-deserved holiday first.

– With AAP.

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