Ex-Afghan president defends fleeing country and insists he did not take stacks of money

Afghanistan: Ashraf Ghani says he 'didn't take any money'

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Ashraf Ghani appeared on BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme to share his side of the story surrounding his departure from Afghanistan when the Taliban moved into Kabul. Mr Ghani faced widespread condemnation for his retreat from Afghan politicians as reports emerged he also took millions of dollars with him. But the former leader hit back against the claims, saying they were influenced by Russia disinformation and welcomed any inquiry into his accounts.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4, Mr Ghani was interviewed by guest-editor General Sir Nick Carter and was challenged on the reports he left Kabul with millions of dollars.

When the reports first emerged around August, Mr Ghani said at the time he only fled with some clothes with the Russian embassy claiming he left with four cars and a helicopter full of money.

The RIA News agency also claimed he had to leave some money behind because he could not fit it all into his helicopter.

The former leader doubled down on his claim and said: “I want to categorically state I did not take any money out of the country.

“The helicopters in our first destination were available for everybody to search.

“And not only I welcome the inquiry by [John Sopko], I’d like an inquiry, and as I suggested earlier, as soon as these allegations were raised by the United Nations or an investigative firm.

“My style of life is known to everyone, what would I do with money?

“This is an accusation, particularly coming from Russia then it’s been circulated.

“So I would be delighted to have any kind of investigation including taking a lie detector test or anything else that is important.

“I stand out for my commitment to my country. I did not come, unlike others, because of a special relationship with intelligence agencies or other things.”

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Mr Ghani also revealed he had “no inkling” he would be fleeing Kabul on August 15 as Taliban forces moved on to the capital.

When quizzed on why he chose to sudden leave, Mr Ghani explained: “Two different factions of the Taliban were closing in from two different directions.

“And the possibility of a massive conflict between them that would destroy the city of five million and bring havoc to the people was enormous.”

Former Vice-President Amrullah Saleh called the retreat “disgraceful” as he joined a long list of critics of the departure

Mr Ghani said he had some part to play in the fall of Kabul and said he put too much trust in international partnerships, such as with the US.

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President Joe Biden pushed back a deal agreed by Donald Trump where US forces would slowly decrease in the region as long as the Taliban did not harbour extremist groups.

However, Mr Biden pushed the May date back to September, angering the Taliban who were already taking back regions.

It eventually led to the Taliban taking over Kabul with desperate civilians and western allies looking to get on planes destined for refuge.

Mr Ghani added: “My life work has been destroyed. My values had been trampled on. And I have been made a scapegoat.”

After the interview, Sir Nick remarked he did not know what Mr Ghani said was true or not but wanted to provide “closure” on the issue.

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