Australia

After more than three years as a Taliban hostage, Tim Weeks has returned to Australia

Australian man Timothy Weeks has arrived home after being held hostage in Afghanistan for more than three years.

Freed Taliban hostage Timothy Weeks has returned to Australia more than three years after he was abducted in Afghanistan. 

Mr Weeks reportedly landed in Sydney late Thursday night after his release from the Taliban was secured as part of a prisoner swap. 

The 50-year-old professor from Wagga Wagga and his American colleague Kevin King were freed 10 days ago in exchange for three members of the Taliban.

They were handed over to US forces in southern Afghanistan last week and flown out of the country by helicopter.

Mr Weeks flew home after spending more than a week at a US military base in Germany receiving medical care.

Foreign Minister Marise Payne said it was an enormous relief that Mr Weeks has returned safely to Australia.

"It has been an extraordinarily long three years for him and his family," Senator Payne told ABC radio.  

Australian Timothy Weekes (top) and American  Kevin King.
Australian Timothy Weeks (top) and American Kevin King were freed last week in a prisoner swap.
AAP

Senator Payne also confirmed she had personally spoken to Mr Weeks just a few days ago. 

"That was a very special conversation, one I had been hoping to be able to have for a long time. It's a matter I was closely involved with as defence minister as well."

Mr Weeks and Mr King were kidnapped at gunpoint as they were leaving the American University's Kabul campus where they worked in 2016. 

A few days later, a rescue mission was launched by US Navy Seals who raided a militant hideout in eastern Afghanistan, but the hostages had reportedly already been moved to another location.

In a video released in January 2017, the men appeared gaunt and distressed as they begged their parents to ask the Australian and US governments to negotiate with the Taliban. 

"If we stay here for much longer, we will be killed. I don't want to die here," Mr Weeks said in the video.

Later that year, the Taliban posted a second video of the two men appearing to be in better condition. 

They said their captors were treating them well and again pleaded with their governments to do something to secure their release by June 2017. 

The people swap agreed to by Afghan president Ashraf Ghani involved the release of Anas Haqqani, the younger brother of Sirajuddin Haqqani, who leads the Taliban's fearsome Haqqani network.

Anas Haqqani, along with an uncle, Hajji Malik Khan, and a Haqqani lieutenant, Hafiz Rashid Khan, were released by the Afghan government on Monday and flown to Qatar, where the extremist group has a political office.

On Monday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison called US President Donald Trump to thank him for Washington's role in securing Mr Weeks' release. 

"It was a great opportunity to say thank you to the president for the amazing work done to get Tim Weeks out and to get him on his way home," Mr Morrison told reporters in Canberra.

"We appreciate the tremendous work they have done."

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