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Afghanistan 24 November 2008

Canadian broadcaster’s two local employees freed

Reporters Without Borders welcomes today’s release of two local employees of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation - brothers Shokoor Feroz, a fixer, and Qaem Feroz, a driver - who had been held by the National Directorate of Security, an intelligence agency, since CBC reporter Melissa Fung’s abduction on 12 October

"We thank President Hamid Karzai and the many other Afghans and Canadians who interceded on behalf of the unjustly detained Feroz brothers," Reporters Without Borders said. "The protests by CBC’s journalists and management illustrated in an exemplary manner that the defence of the local employees of foreign media should be a priority. The Afghan authorities should compensate the two brothers for their six weeks in detention."


Authorities urged to free CBC reporter’s fixer and driver if no evidence links them to abduction

Reporters Without Borders calls on Afghan interior minister Mohamad Hanif Atmar to release two local employees of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation in Kabul - brothers Shokoor Feroz, a fixer, and Qaem Feroz, a driver - who were arrested a few hours after CBC reporter Melissa Fung’s abduction on 12 October 2008. Fung was freed four weeks later but the Feroz brothers are still detained by the National Directorate of Security (NDS).

“If there is evidence against Shokoor and Qaem Feroz, 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,” Reporters Without Borders said. “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.”

It is clear from Fung’s statements after her release on 8 November and the information obtained by Reporters Without Borders 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 kidnapped. 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 13 November 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.

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