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Freed Canadian reporter is back home but her Afghan assistants remain in detention

Freed Canadian reporter is back home but her Afghan assistants remain in detention
Safe home: In this photo provided by the Canadian Broadcasting Corp (CBC) journalist Mellissa Fung talks about her abduction ordeal in Afghanistan November 12, 2008 at an undisclosed location. In an interview, Fung, 35, credited her freedom to a prisoner exchange, not money.Photo: The Canadian Press, Stephanie Jenzer, CBC

Press freedom groups have called for the release of two local employees of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation in Kabul who were arrested a few hours after CBC reporter Mellissa Fung’s abduction on October 12. Fung was freed four weeks later but the two are still detained by the National Directorate of Security (NDS).

“If there is evidence against Shokoor Feroz, a fixer, and Qaem Feroz, a driver, they should be brought before a judge, but it is becoming more and more apparent that their prolonged detention by the NDS is a mistake,” Paris-based RSF said on Friday. “The success of the security forces in freeing Fung should now be followed by their release. There should be no double standards in this case.”

"The fate of these two men should not be forgotten," said Bob Dietz, Asia programme coordinator of the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ). "We call on the Afghan authorities to release them immediately. In the past, we have seen foreign journalists survive attacks while local journalists and media support workers are forced to pay a higher price."

It is clear, RSF said, from Fung’s statements after her release on November 8 and the information obtained by it from other CBC journalists that the Feroz brothers were not involved in the Canadian journalist’s abduction. Shokoor Feroz even warned her of the dangers they were running while reporting at the refugee camp near Kabul where she was abducted. Fung has never suggested that her fixer and driver were in any way implicated.

The Feroz brothers are currently held at NDS headquarters in Kabul. They have not been charged and are being held with criminals who were, like them, detained as suspects in the case. Shokoor Feroz has been a CBC fixer for three years. He previously worked for an airline.

CBC and a group of journalists who have worked with the Feroz brothers have also asked the Afghan authorities to produce evidence of their guilt or release them. In a letter to President Hamid Karzai, the CBC journalists wrote: “Each of us has placed our lives in the hands of the Feroz brothers. Neither has ever betrayed that responsibility and thus we have immense trust in both.”

CBC News publisher John Cruickshank said in a November 13 message that his staff were working to obtain the release of the Feroz brothers.

This is not the first time Afghan fixers have been killed or imprisoned as a result of their work with foreign journalists. Adjmal Nasqhbandi and Sayed Agha were killed by Taliban insurgents in 2007 for working with Italian reporter Daniele Mastrogiacomo.

Date posted: November 22, 2008 Last modified: May 23, 2018 Total views: 419