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Afghan in France with suspected Taliban links convicted of leaving surveillance

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By Euronews with AFP/AP
A gendarme guards a government plane carrying people from Kabul at the Roissy Charles Gaulle airport, north of Paris.
A gendarme guards a government plane carrying people from Kabul at the Roissy Charles Gaulle airport, north of Paris.   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Francois Mori
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An Afghan evacuee under watch in France for possible links to the Taliban has been convicted of leaving surveillance.

The man -- identified only as Ahmat M. -- was given a suspended sentence for leaving the hotel where he was restricted and travelling to Paris.

He was one of five Afghan nationals who were placed under surveillance earlier this month when they were repatriated to France.

French authorities had suspected that the five men had indirect links to the Taliban and confined them and their families in a hotel in Noisy-le-Grand upon arrival.

Ahmat M. was given a 10-month suspended prison sentence at the urgent court hearing on Wednesday.

The suspect claimed he had been a prosecutor in Afghanistan and went to Paris on Monday with another person to buy medication for headaches and a telephone card, according to French media.

French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin has reiterated that the man only left his guarded zone "for a few minutes".

Darmanin has also told French media that there were "no loopholes" in the surveillance of Afghans repatriated to France.

"We wanted all Afghans who left Kabul to pass through the French military base in Abu Dhabi" to be checked by the French security services, he said in an interview with FranceInfo.

"We know all the people who arrived on our soil, brought back by the French army."

On their arrival in France, five Afghans were notified that they had been placed under surveillance by the Directorate General of Internal Surveillance (DGSI).

Four of the five men were close to a man suspected of links to the Taliban, Darmanin added.

The man in question is an Afghan national "who helped saved lives" and evacuate French citizens and embassy workers from Kabul "at a time that was incredibly tense," government spokesperson Gabriel Attal told BFMTV.

France has brought more than 2,000 back to Europe, via Abu Dhabi, since last week.

Meanwhile, across the channel, UK defence secretary Ben Wallace spoke to UK broadcaster Sky News about reports that an individual evacuated from Afghanistan was on the UK's no-fly list.

Wallace said he "wouldn't be as alarmed" as some headlines had made out after reports emerged someone had arrived in the UK from the no-fly watchlist.

Later on Monday the Home Office confirmed the reports to be untrue.

Defending the system, Wallace said it had "many subdivisions" which flagged individuals who needed further checks, but that didn't always mean they were dangerous.

He added it was "a plus" the process flagging the individual had worked.

Wallace also said more than 2,000 people have been evacuated from Kabul over the past 24 hours bringing the total number of people removed from the country since August 14 to 8,600.