Everyone knows that in miserable, medieval countries like Afghanistan, the purpose of attaining any kind of government or administrative office is not to contribute to the country and to help its people, but to use the acquired power to benefit and enrich oneself and one's family, tribe and associates.
It's obvious that the low-life who impounded the vehicles from Bill Shaw's company used their 'authority' as an opportunity to enrich themselves, by demanding exorbitant 'release' fees.
Bill Shaw paid those fees because, in the anarchy of Kabul, it was the only way to get anything done.
This does not make him guilty of bribery and corruption. Everyone who has to operate in these backward hell-holes has to pay these fees. Everyone. Otherwise, no wheels will turn. Your shipment will remain in the dock until it rots. Your imported medicine will be awaiting clearance until you have died of the condition. Your passport will remain 'lost'. It's the way things are and everyone knows it.
In Unilever, where I began my career, we had guidance on this in the Finance Audit Procedures Manual. These were called 'facilitating payments'. Facilitating payments were officially okay. These differed from bribes in that a bribe was a payment made in order to influence someone to do something illegal, whereas a facilitating payment was just to get things done, to pay someone just to do their bloody job.
Whether Bill Shaw thought he was paying a legitimate fee or making a facilitating payment, the guilt lies with the bastards who impounded the vehicles and demanded the payment. Bill was just trying to get things done.
This demonstrates the quagmire that is Afghanistan, and that just because the Taliban are 'bad', it doesn't mean that their opponents are 'good'. They are all varying degrees of 'bad'. Ultimately they are all tribalists, who have no concept of human rights, fairness and justice. I make this statement with deep regret, but all of the empirical evidence suggests that it is true.
We cannot fix Afghanistan in this respect, but why is Bill Shaw in prison? This is an outrage. Where is the British Government in this? Every day that Bill Shaw spends in prison is completely unacceptable. I wouldn't be surprised if the Americans are trying to promote the legitimacy of the new 'anti-corruption' courts, but this is a Kafkaesque nightmare and the British Government needs to show some spine.
Release Bill Shaw now.