Taliban Release Video of Canadian Man Held Captive

A Toronto man held in captivity by the Taliban says in a video released Sunday by the militant group that he went to Afghanistan to visit historical sites.

Colin Rutherford, 26, says he was interested in "history and historical sites, old buildings, shrines" when he flew to Kabul in October.

He spent a few days in the capital, then headed to the eastern city of Ghazni, where he was captured by militants the day after arriving, he says in the video.

In an email accompanying the release of the video, the Taliban threatened to put Rutherford on trial for espionage if Canada does not meet its demands.

Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid did not list the demands, saying the Canadian government was aware of what the Taliban want.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade acknowleged Sunday in a release that Rutherford is "missing in Afghanistan after travelling to the country as a tourist."

"Canadian officials are working with Afghan authorities to assist the family in securing the safe release of their loved one. We ask that the media respect the privacy of the family," Foreign Affairs spokesperson Lisa Monette said.

The Taliban announced his capture in February, saying at the time that they would release a video of Rutherford, a University of Toronto science graduate.

The footage released Sunday on a Taliban website shows a young man with dark hair and a moustache, wearing a winter jacket and sitting cross-legged with his hands on his knees. He gives brief answers to a series of questions put to him in accented English by a man off-screen, and shifts his solemn gaze from the man to the floor between them and the camera.

"What was your purpose for visiting Afghanistan?" the man asks.

Rutherford replies, "I'm an auditor from Canada and I came as a tourist."

It is not known when the video was shot.

In February, the Taliban maintained they took Rutherford because he was working as a spy to track down their fighters. They claimed to have confiscated documents from him proving he was a secret agent.

Rutherford's Facebook page documents his prior travels through Asia, including to Kashmir, the region disputed by India and Pakistan.