Freeing a hostage …


The Pakistan Observer is reporting that two Taliban leaders held on charges of terrorism and murder of foreign troops were released in exchange for the freedom of CBC journalist Mellissa Fung, who had been held captive in a tiny cave west of Kabul for 28 days. The World Desk is trying to independently confirm the story. If true, Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s claim that no ransom was paid for Fung’s release was disingenuous.

UPDATE: A government official who is knows the details of Fung’s release told The World Desk that several suspects were arrested during the investigation into Fung’s abduction, and some of these individuals were subsequently released — not, the official said, in exchange for Fung’s freedom. The official added that none of the released prisoners belonged to the Taliban.

ADDITIONAL UPDATE: Omar Samad, Afghanistan’s ambassador to Canada, told The World Desk that no prisoner swap took place to secure Fung’s release. He said that she was freed after Afghan security forces, who were helped by “local community networks,” raided a compound in Wardak province. He said several suspects have been detained and others are being pursued.


Freeing a hostage …

  1. I suspected that given how Harper phrased it: “No ransom was paid.”

    Not lies but it seems it could be a half-truth.

  2. I’m sorry, but this is unacceptable. Agreeing to the demands of terrorists has only ensured that more and more innocent people will be abducted by these savages. I feel like a heal saying so, since I’m genuinely glad Ms. Fung is now safe, but this was the wrong decision.

  3. I agree with Ben Hicks. I’m happy Ms. Fung is safe but if this was the path chosen to procure her freedom I can’t say I support it and don’t appreciate Harper’s little play on words to evade the truth.

  4. We’re getting all kinds of rumours and speculation.
    Some of which may actually have some basis in fact.

    In any case, if this one is true it’s a deal I’ll take.

    The “debate” reminds me of my early years in Catholic school where
    the nuns were very determined to teach that suffering is good for us but
    it’s especially good for other people.

  5. *Reads Updates*

    Sounds like I may have jumped the gun. I sure hope so.

    I take your point Sisphus, and lord knows if it was my friend or family member held hostage I would only care about her safety. But governments must look at the big picture in such matters, and rewarding terrorists for taking hostages endangers every foreigner in Afghnaistan. If governments had drawn a line in the sand years ago (ie: no concessions to hostage takers) the practice might lost it’s appeal and Ms. Fung would never have had to go through this ordeal.

  6. Many if not most companies who conduct business in dangerous areas have a policy of paying ransoms when employees are kidnapped, because its unlikely qualified people would take the work if they knew they could be left out to try to prove a point. It’s unrealistic to assume kidnappers, especially a small group of independent bandits, will do the research to determine who is willing to pay a ransom and who will leave their people to die. Kidnappers may also hope to forego a government or employer and communicate directly with a kidnapee’s family. So I have no problem when some kind of quid pro quo is on the table, and would judge on a case by case basis.

  7. …and that should read “left out to Dry”

  8. This just in: The kidnappers were bribed with shares of the National Post, thus allowing Harper to tell reporters that no concessions whatsoever had been made! By the time the kidnappers could find a brokerage, the value of the shares had dropped to zero.

  9. Your point as a principle is fine, Ben.

    But if kidnapping for ransom had no value to Afghanis then a whole lot more Westeners would be dead.

    Afghanis devalue their own lives in ways we can not grasp.

    The lives of a few random Westeners has no meaning for them.

    I’m afraid you’re applying the rules of enlightened self-interest to people whose level of hate for the West
    passes our understanding.

  10. On the first update, Pakistan news sources reported at the time of the kidnapping that 5 people had been arrested in connection with the abduction, including the interpreter and others with Fung. CBC reported they were trying to free one of these. Are these the people the government source says they have freed, or did they arrest some in addition to these five?

  11. If there was any quid for the quo (for which there is currently too much speculation and not nearly enough fact), it was a dumb and dangerous move, as much as it hurts to say this as I am cheering Ms. Fung’s freedom.

    How many more abductions will be encouraged by this (alleged!) reward of criminal filth?

    How many more episodes of Somali piracy do you expect there would be if the US Navy shot the first coralled ship out of the water? I suggest waaay less than the number we have seen now that it is widely known that a paid ransom is your reward for the trouble of taking over a ship.

    If there was any form of payment, here’s hoping they were specially marked Tim Horton’s gift certificates, cashable at any participating location in Afghanistan. Enjoy your Timbits handed to you on a platter, boys…

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