Correction to This Article
This article incorrectly identified Mellissa Fung, a Canadian journalist who was held captive in Afghanistan for four weeks before being freed, as a freelance reporter for the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. She is a full-time staff member.

Canadian Journalist Set Free by Afghan Abductors After 4 Weeks

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By Candace Rondeaux
Washington Post Foreign Service
Sunday, November 9, 2008

ISLAMABAD, Nov. 8 -- A Canadian journalist kidnapped in Afghanistan was released Saturday after four weeks in captivity, according to Afghan and Canadian officials.

Mellissa Fung was abducted Oct. 12 while reporting for the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. Fung, 35, who worked with the CBC on a freelance basis, was traveling with a translator and driver when she was seized after interviewing refugees in a sprawling camp about five miles west of Kabul.

Few details about Fung's abductors or where she was held were released Saturday. But an official with CBC in Kabul said Fung was returned to the capital about 7:30 p.m. and appeared to be in good health.

Jamie Purdon, director of news gathering for CBC, said Fung was probably held by the same captors for the duration of the ordeal.

Fung, who was taken to the Canadian Embassy after her release, will undergo a full medical examination before returning to her family in Canada, CBC said.

"We are very, very relieved," Purdon said.

Adam Khan Serat, a spokesman for the governor of neighboring Wardak province, told the Associated Press that tribal elders and provincial council members helped negotiate Fung's release.

Fung's kidnapping was one in a string of high-profile abductions of foreigners in Afghanistan in recent months. On Friday, a Dutch journalist who was kidnapped near Kabul was released after about a week in captivity.

The spate of abductions and several violent attacks on foreigners in Afghanistan has raised fears about deteriorating security conditions in and around the capital.

Afghan authorities and the Afghan media widely reported on Fung's kidnapping. But international media did not publicize her disappearance, complying with a request from the CBC and Canadian Embassy officials, who feared that the attention might complicate negotiations.

"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," John Cruickshank, publisher of CBC News, said in a statement released Saturday. "All of the efforts made by the security experts were focused on Mellissa's safe and timely release. For this reason, we can only share general information about the events of the last three weeks."

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said no ransom was paid for Fung's release, the AP reported. He thanked the Afghan government for its cooperation.

"I spoke with President [Hamid] Karzai immediately after this abduction occurred. He promised me the full cooperation and engagement of his government, and he delivered," he said.

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