KABUL, Afghanistan – Afghan kidnappers held a female Canadian journalist for four weeks in an underground cave in which she could barely stand, the journalist said in a videotape released Sunday.
Mellissa Fung, a reporter for the Canadian Broadcasting Corp., said in the video that her captors guarded her in the tiny cave for the first three weeks of her abduction. In the last week, her captors chained her hands and feet and she was left by herself, she said.
Fung said her captors never hurt her but that she was kept blindfolded.
She was freed Saturday after tribal elders and provincial council members negotiated her release, said Adam Khan Serat, spokesman for the provincial governor in Wardak. Serat said no ransom was paid.
Afghan intelligence agents arrested three people suspected of involvement in the kidnapping, the intelligence agency said.
In the videotape, taken by Afghan intelligence agents and released to the public Sunday, Fung can be seen telling Canada's ambassador that she's not hurt and that she hopes people won't make "a big fuss" over her situation.
"I'm fine, really, I'm fine. I'm just happy to be here," she said.
When Canada's ambassador walked up to greet her with a hug, Fung said: "I'm not smelling great." She later said she hoped to take a shower.
Afghanistan's intelligence chief, Amrullah Saleh, can be seen questioning Fung on the videotape. He asked Fung if her captors kept her in a well or in a house. Authorities last month freed two kidnapped Afghans who were kept captive in a well.
"In a cave. It was very small," Fung replied. "They dug a small hole ... and the hole (entrance) was here, and then there was a little tunnel that went into the cave." Fung then drew Saleh a sketch of the cave.
"Could you stand in the cave?" Saleh asked.
"Barely, and I am short," she replied.
Fung also told Saleh that she couldn't thank him enough. "There's no need to," Saleh replied.
John Cruickshank, publisher of CBC news, said Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper "got directly involved from the first day" of Fung's abduction.
On Saturday, Harper praised the Afghan government for its cooperation.
He said he had spoken with Fung by telephone and that no ransom had been paid for her release. He declined to speculate on who might have kidnapped her.
Western news organizations in Afghanistan, including The Associated Press, had been aware of Fung's abduction, but the CBC requested that her case not be publicized for safety considerations while officials tried to negotiate her release.
Cruickshank said CBC had asked other news outlets to refrain from publishing news of her abduction based on the advice of security experts.
"I can say however say that it's unlikely that I'd be briefing you today with this delightful news of Mellissa's safe release if it had not been for the cooperation of news organizations around the world," he said.
Fung was 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.
Security has deteriorated around Afghanistan over the last two years, although violence against Westerners in the capital has been relatively rare until recently.
Kabul has seen a spike in crimes against Westerners in the last several weeks.
An aid worker with dual South African-British citizenship was killed by Taliban gunmen in a Kabul neighborhood last month, and a French aid worker was kidnapped at gunpoint in Kabul earlier this week.