Ryan Corbett of Dansville has been held by the Taliban in Afghanistan since August of last year. And after months of remaining quiet, his family in Western New York and government officials are speaking out to have him released.
After the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, like many Americans, 40-year-old Ryan Corbett and his family returned home to Dansville. But after returning to Afghanistan in 2022, Ryan was unlawfully detained by the Taliban. Now, his family is speaking out.
“He was lawfully lawfully in the country at the time of his arrest, and the Department of State — the Secretary of State, in fact — has designated him as wrongfully detained,” family spokesperson Erin Pelton said.
“I have been brought on to help them as a volunteer in navigating this world that is very foreign to most people of, you know, trying to negotiate the release of an American that is wrongfully detained overseas,” she added.
Pelton says that Ryan Corbett returned to Afghanistan to salvage the rest of his business and pay his employees, but last year was unlawfully detained by the Taliban.
“He’s now been held for 16 months,” Pelton said. “The Corbett family began this process by being quiet. They didn’t want to make him more valuable than he might otherwise be by being loud or talking about him publicly, but that really didn’t work.”
That’s a priority that U.S. Rep. Claudia Tenney, R-24th, says is top of mind at all levels of government.
“We have been working with the administration, the State Department, various agencies that deal with the situation and also a number of people who have been representing Ryan’s wife and family,” Tenney said.
According to The Wall Street Journal, the Taliban has made certain demands in exchange for Corbett’s release but details have not been made public.
Tenney says that she and other members of Congress are committed to doing whatever it takes to get Ryan home.
“We are grateful to everyone, from the administration to our senators to everyone in our State Department doing everything they can to get him home to his family, hopefully as healthy as we can expect him to be,” Tenney said.
Meanwhile, Ryan’s wife Anna and three children wait at home in Dansville and are calling on everyone who can help raise awareness for his release to do so.
“freeryan.org is a website where people can find more information about the Corbett family and also use the website to reach out their members of Congress to encourage them to put pressure on the Biden administration to prioritizing bringing Ryan home,” Pelton said.
According to Pelton, Ryan’s wife Anna’s recent testimony before Congress and the Biden administration’s ongoing negotiations are signs of progress, but she can’t release details on the exact nature of what is being negotiated. But she says Corbett has been held in solitary confinement and concerns for his health are ongoing.
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