Australian professor Timothy Weeks has spoken publicly for the first time after spending over three years as a Taliban prisoner in Afghanistan.
Joined by his two sisters at a news conference held in Sydney on Sunday, he said his time as a Taliban hostage had a "profound and unimaginable effect" on him.
“At times I felt as if my death was imminent and that I would never return to see those that I loved again but by the will of God I am here, I am alive and I am safe and I am free there's nothing else in the world that I need,” he said.
Weeks and his American colleague Kevin King were released from captivity last month as part of a prisoner swap deal.
“As a result of this exchange, the peace talks between America, the Taliban and finally the Afghan government have resumed again. This brings great joy to me and obviously those who have suffered needlessly throughout the 20 years of violence I pray that they will be successful and that they may enable the return of stability and security to the country of Afghanistan and the region,” he said.
The pair were abducted in 2016 outside the American University in Kabul where they both worked as teachers.
“After almost 1,200 days our ordeal ended as abruptly as it had begun and a Black Hawk helicopter lifted me from the parched soils of Afghanistan. Firstly, I would like to take this opportunity to thank all those who worked on the long and complex process that led to our final release,” he said.
In exchange for Weeks and King, three Taliban prisoners were released by the Afghan government and flown to Qatar.
Weeks arrived back in Australia late last week.
He thanked those involved in securing his release and said he is relieved to be home.