Thursday, November 13, 2008

Fung says captors' kin freed in exchange for her.

This is from the Star.
Fung's story sounds very much like the truth and makes perfect sense. Obviously there was a prisoner exchange and it seems a dropping of charges as well! It had nothing to do with the Taliban though but with whatever group was involved in the kidnapping and they were apprenhended as part of the investigation into the kidnapping. The official denials were sort of true and but sort of spin as well!

Fung says captors' kin freed in exchange for her

Nov 12, 2008 09:02 PM
Mellissa Fung's 28-day ordeal inside a tiny cave in Afghanistan came to an end only after Afghan authorities agreed to release relatives of her captors, the CBC reporter said Wednesday in her first comprehensive interview since she was freed.
Fung, 35, dismissed media reports that Taliban prisoners had been exchanged for her freedom, but confirmed she was set free as part of a quid pro quo with Afghan intelligence that involved relatives of her kidnappers who'd been taken into custody.
"I now understand that Afghan intelligence had sort of fingered the family of the ringleader of this gang, and had arrested a whole bunch of them and it was a prisoner exchange," Fung said in an interview from an undisclosed location.
"They agreed to release the family if the group would release me, and that's what ended up happening."
Fung went on to make clear that the prisoners who were released were linked directly to her abduction.
"That was directly related to, then, the people that took you, as opposed to other prisoners?" her interviewer asks.
"There were never any other prisoners," comes the reply.
Ever since Fung – who was nabbed Oct. 12 after visiting a refugee camp outside the Afghan capital of Kabul – was released Saturday, questions have been swirling about precisely how her freedom was secured.
Canadian officials, including Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Ron Hoffman, Canada's ambassador to Afghanistan, have emphatically denied that any ransom was paid, nor were any "Taliban prisoners" or "political prisoners" set free in exchange for Fung.
It now appears, however, that those words were chosen carefully.
"There have been continued reports about ransoms or money being paid; that was not done in this case," Harper said during a news conference Monday.
"Likewise, there's been no release or exchange of political prisoners."
Harper was responding to questions about a Pakistan newspaper report citing anonymous sources that said Fung was only let go after two jailed Taliban leaders were released.
Hoffman also denied the report.
"I've been very close to this and there was no such exchange," he said. "I am more than reasonably confident that there was no exchange of Taliban prisoners."
In an interview Wednesday with CBC Newsworld, Hoffman acknowledged the release of the family members, but characterized it as "leverage" used to secure Fung's freedom, not a prisoner exchange.
"As part of their (Afghan intelligence's) investigation, they did detain briefly some family members of some of the kidnappers, which was ultimately an important point of leverage to help secure her release," Hoffman said.
"Ultimately, they would not have been kept under custody because they weren't charged, and they were only held fairly briefly. But it did put pressure on the kidnappers, because it allowed the Afghan authorities to know who some of the main perpetrators were – and that was much more important than the fact that they were briefly detained."
Fung told a harrowing tale Wednesday of how she was kept – blindfolded and chained at times, subsisting only on cookies and juice provided by her captors – in a tiny cave somewhere outside Kabul after she was grabbed while returning from interviews near the Afghan capital.
"I'm not dying here," Fung recalled telling herself. "Dying is not an option. Help is coming. I will get out of here one way or another."

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