Wife of Dansville man detained in Afghanistan to attend the State of the Union

Bringing Ryan Home

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DANSVILLE N.Y. – The wife of a Livingston County man who has been wrongfully detained by the Taliban in Afghanistan for nearly a year and a half will be a guest at the State of the Union on Thursday in hopes of bringing more attention to the situation. 

Ryan Corbett grew up in Dansville and met his wife Anna in college.

“We both really wanted to make a difference with our lives and do something that could help people and so, we moved to Afghanistan in 2010,” she tells News10NBC.     

For a decade, the Corbetts built a life for their three children in Afghanistan and they built a company that provided Afghans with tools and financing to build their own small business. 

But when American troops pulled out of the country and the Taliban took over again, they decided to leave.

“Ryan still had his staff, he still had the business going and he didn’t want to just leave it all and abandon his staff and his employees and so, he kept it going at a distance,” says Anna. 

In early 2022, Ryan made a trip back to Afghanistan.

“They asked questions about his staff, his work and they were really excited about it and actually said, this is exactly what we need in Afghanistan so, here’s your business visa for the next 12-months so, that went very smoothly,” Anna says. 

It was the second trip to the country in August of 2022, while trying to renew that visa, that Ryan was detained. Initially, Anna says the family was certain the whole thing was a misunderstanding but, “Here we are, almost 19 months later and he is still there, in a basement cell and I never could have imagined that it would drag on this long.”

The Taliban released two Afghans and a German citizen who were with Ryan Corbett at the time of the detainment yet he remains in that cell.

“There’s been questions of deteriorating health, and for sure 19-months of detainment, there will be physical damage, emotional damage and that’s so scary for the kids and I,” Anna says.

Since Ryan has been detained, Anna has gotten to speak with him just four times with each call lasting less than 10 minutes.

“His voice sounded okay but he sounded sad, it’s really tough for him to be missing out on so much with our family,” Anna says. “My children are 13, 16 and 18 and you could hear the sadness. It’s hard because on these calls he’s not alone and it’s hard to know what I can trust that he’s saying.”

The State Department and the NSA, along with dozens of senators and members of Congress from both political parties say they’re working diplomatic channels to get Ryan home. 

“We don’t want to negotiate with terrorists,” says Rep. Claudia Tenney, “But as Anna said, there have been others let go without exchanges so, we want Ryan to make sure that he gets out in the same way.”

Rep. Tenney represents the Corbett family in Congress and has invited Anna to be her guest at the State of the Union on Thursday. 

“It just confounds us why they would keep Ryan, we’re really just trying to get him home safely and do what we can to shine a light on it,” says Rep. Tenney. 

Anna is hoping her presence at the State of the Union will put pressure on Congress and the White House to step up negotiations for the sake of Ryan and their family.

“My kids, they’re worried about their dad, they miss him and my daughter is graduating high school in June and we’re really worried he won’t be home for that,” Anna says through tears. 

For now, the Corbetts continue to push for action and pray.

“I have to keep hope and faith and stay strong for the kids, for our family, I have to but it’s terrifying,” Anna says.

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