Amid Taliban takeover, aspiring crypto miner flees Afghanistan

An Afghan refugee who had planned to start a crypto mining business has been arrested in Turkey after illegally crossing the border.

According to a Reuters report, Muhammad Ali’s goal was to mine Bitcoin (BTC) or Ether (ETH) in Afghanistan before the recent Taliban takeover, when he was forced to flee the country. He claimed that with the restrictions on personal liberties the group was likely to impose, smartphones with cameras could easily be deemed illegal, and internet access could be compromised.

Ali, who previously had a YouTube channel where he discussed financial topics, reportedly left Afghanistan amid the Taliban gaining control of major populated areas, traveled across northern Iran, and crossed the Turkey-Iran border — a journey of more than 2,000 km. However, he reported his group had been “arrested by police” shortly after entering Turkey.

Reports out of Afghanistan suggest hundreds of thousands of people are attempting to flee the country amid the full withdrawal of the U.S. military: some awaiting foreign governments to process visas so they can fly out of Kabul’s airport, while others like Ali attempt to escape on land. Though Turkish authorities are reportedly not sending refugees caught illegally crossing the Turkey-Iran border back to Afghanistan, they are being deported to Iran.

Though Ali had expressed concern about Afghans’ access to smartphones and the internet, for the moment information is still making its way out of the country via social media and other channels. For example, someone posted a video showing a group of women protesting in Kabul as Taliban soldiers watched, and others claimed the Taliban burned down an amusement park shortly after riding the rides.

Related: Helping Afghanistan: Organizations currently accepting crypto donations

The students with Code to Inspire, a school aiming to educate Afghan girls on coding and robotics, are “still coding at home” as of Aug. 20, according to founder Fareshteh Forough. However, the situation in the country is seemingly unstable as reports of assault, murder, and human rights violations circulate while the Taliban expands its foothold.

As of today, President Joe Biden said the U.S. military is still on track to withdraw from Afghanistan by Aug. 31, the deadline on which an agreement was reached with the Taliban.

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