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Canadian journalist held hostage released, but Afghan fixer and driver still detained

(CJFE/IFEX) - The following is a 10 November 2008 CJFE press release:

CJFE Welcomes Release of Canadian Journalist Mellissa Fung, Concerned about Afghan 'Fixer' and Driver

(Toronto, November 10, 2008) - Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE) welcomes the good news that after almost a month in captivity, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) TV journalist Mellissa Fung is now free. At the same time, we are still extremely concerned that Shakoor Ferog, the Afghan translator and 'fixer' working with Fung, is in custody, along with his brother who served as the driver of the CBC vehicle at the time of the abduction.

CJFE, like other media and free expression organizations, has not been able to speak publicly about the kidnapping, due to concerns about Fung's safety. As a free expression organization we believe in the importance of access to information, but our foremost concern is for the protection and safety of journalists. We are heartened that the efforts of so many people behind the scenes, including, crucially, the Canadian government, have led to Fung's safe release.

Now that Mellissa Fung has been released, our attention and that of the Canadian government must turn to Fung's colleague Ferog, who worked for her as a translator. He has worked for the CBC for over five years, and has put his life on the line countless times in supporting CBC journalists. Shakoor and his brother were detained when they went to the police station to report Fung's kidnapping.

Arnold Amber, CJFE President stated that "it is vital that while celebrating the good news of Fung's release, Canadians do not forget her two colleagues." They are reportedly being held by Afghan intelligence services, which have been connected with acts of torture in the past. All Afghan media workers who work for international journalists are vulnerable precisely because of their efforts to get news out to the rest of the world.

CJFE congratulates the Canadian government and all those who worked to secure Mellissa Fung's release. We now ask that this work continue to secure the urgent release of her two colleagues.

Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE) is an association of more than 300 journalists, editors, publishers, producers, students and others who work to promote and defend free expression and press freedom in Canada and around the world. CJFE has a history of work on cases pertaining to media law and freedom of expression.

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