KABUL, Afghanistan – A female Canadian TV journalist abducted and held for four weeks in Afghanistan was freed Saturday after Afghan tribal leaders persuaded the kidnappers to release her, officials said.
Mellissa Fung, a reporter for the Canadian Broadcasting Corp., was taken hostage Oct. 12 after reporting in a refugee camp in Kabul.
Fung, who was on her first trip to Afghanistan, had been taken out of Kabul by her captors and held in a dangerous Taliban-controlled region of Wardak province, one province west of Kabul.
She was freed after tribal elders and provincial council members negotiated her release, said Adam Khan Serat, spokesman for the provincial governor in Wardak. Serat said there was no ransom involved.
John Cruickshank, publisher of CBC news, said that Fung called her parents Saturday and told them she was on her way to Kabul and was safe and healthy. He called Fung's release "great news" and credited the Afghan government for securing her freedom.
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper "got directly involved from the first day, just to make it clear how serious this was for the Canadian government," Cruickshank said.
Reporters for Western news outlets in Afghanistan, including The Associated Press, had been aware of Fung's abduction since the day she was taken, but the CBC requested that her case not be publicized for safety considerations while officials tried to negotiate her release.
"In the interest of Mellissa's safety and that of other working journalists in the region, on the advice of security experts, we made the decision to ask media colleagues not to publish news of her abduction," Cruickshank said in a statement.
"All of the efforts made by the security experts were focused on Melissa's safe and timely release. For this reason, we can only share general information about the events of the last three weeks," he said.
Afghan news organizations published reports of Fung's abductions, but no Western outlets did.
Fung is the second abducted foreign journalist to be released in two days. On Friday, a Dutch journalist kidnapped just outside of the capital, Kabul, was freed unharmed after nearly a week in captivity.
Joanie de Rijke, 43, was kidnapped Nov. 1 while working on a story for Belgium's P magazine on the deaths of 10 French troops in a Taliban ambush in August.
Michael Lescroart, editorial chief at the magazine's publisher De Vrije Pers, said Friday that the kidnappers had demanded a ransom, but he declined to say if one had been paid.
Security has deteriorated around Afghanistan over the last two years, although violence against Westerners in the capital has been relatively rare until recently.
But Kabul has seen a spike in crimes against Westerners in the last several weeks. A dual citizen South African-British aid worker was shot and killed by Taliban gunmen in a Kabul neighborhood last month, and a French aid worker was kidnapped at gunpoint in Kabul this past week.