The Afghan government allowed 10 Chinese nationals-- arrested on December 10 for operating a "terror cell" in Kabul--to leave the country, said the Hindustan Times, quoting sources familiar with the issue.
The 10 members of the cell were flown out of the country in a plane arranged by the Chinese government after approval from President Ashraf Ghani, the report said.
“Diplomats and security officials in Kabul, however, confirmed to Hindustan Times that the 10 had been allowed to board a chartered aircraft that flew them out of the country on Saturday after clearance from President Ashraf Ghani,” the Hindustan Times wrote.
The Hindustan Times had reported the detention of the 10 Chinese nationals by Afghanistan’s National Directorate of Security (NDS) on December 25 for being part of a spy ring.
“Afghanistan had offered to pardon the 10 Chinese nationals on the condition that Beijing apologies for deploying the 10 persons including at least one woman, believed to be linked to China’s spy agency, Ministry of State Security,” the report said.
“Regarding the Chinese network, I can confirm for you that, yes, they have been arrested; however, I can't go into the details because of the sensitive nature of the case,” said Ahmad Zia Saraj, the head of the NDS.
“What is going on behind the scenes and why these agents were arrested--such issues will not have good repercussions for Afghan and Chinese politics in the future,” said Abdullah Tabe, a political analyst in Kabul.
Back in December, reports surfaced in the media that the US President Donald Trump received information earlier in December that China sought to pay non-state actors to attack American forces in Afghanistan.
The intelligence, which will be declassified by the Trump administration, was provided to the President in his daily brief on December 17, the official said. NSA Robert O'Brien discussed the information with the President that same day, the official told CNN.
POLITICO also reported that the US National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien briefed President Donald Trump on the unconfirmed allegations on Dec. 17, according to two other senior administration officials. But they stressed that the intelligence, first reported by Axios on Wednesday, is uncorroborated.
In fact, the intelligence is “very thin” — thinner even than reports that Russia offered payments to the Taliban to target US and coalition troops, which were never corroborated, the first senior US official told POLITICO.