Police at first refused help in Fung abduction: CBC's Afghan 'fixer'

An Afghan man working with CBC reporter Mellissa Fung said he immediately flagged down a policeman after she was abducted, but was told it wasn't the police's responsibility to help them.

An Afghan man who worked with CBC reporter Mellissa Fung said Monday he immediately flagged down a policeman after she was abducted, but was told it wasn't the police's responsibility to help them.

Shokoor Feroz, who was held for questioning in connection with Fung's Oct. 12 abduction, was released by local authorities on Monday after appeals from the CBC and Fung herself.

A "fixer," who works as a translator and guide for foreign reporters, Feroz was arrested in the hours after Fung's abduction and held for questioning. He had been working with CBC reporters in Afghanistan for about three years.

In an interview with CBC News on Monday, Feroz recalled the moment Fung was taken by armed men as he and the journalist finished taking camera shots for a story on a refugee camp outside of Kabul. 

He described a young man with a slight beard who rushed toward the CBC reporter as he and Fung approached their car.

"I thought he was a crazy man," Feroz said.

Suddenly, two other men emerged from a car and grabbed Fung. Feroz said the journalist shouted his name and something he couldn't understand as she was being pulled into the car, then one of the men pointed his gun at him.

"Then I turn my face, I took my hands to the back of my head, even though … I had the camera on her," he said.

The other man then took a pistol out of his waist pocket, he said.

"This one [wanted] to shoot me, but he didn't."

'It's not our responsibility'

Less than two minutes after the kidnappers sped away, Feroz said, he ran to the main road and flagged down a police car carrying a family.

He said he explained to two officers inside the vehicle what just happened and begged them for help.

"I said … 'That gunman, he just took my colleague. She was a foreigner. Please help me,'" Feroz said.

"That guy told me, 'Go to the police checkpoint. It's over there. It's not our responsibility.'"

When he pleaded with the officers, they instructed him to move away from their car.

"They could have caught them," he said.

About three or four minutes later, Feroz saw an Afghan National Army vehicle and jumped in front of it to make it stop. He and the army officers headed in the direction Fung was taken, but by then it was too late.

"We ask from the people, 'Have you seen a vehicle colour with this specification," he recalled. "They said, 'No, no.'"

Fung was released on Nov. 8, 28 days after being abducted, but Feroz continued to be detained. He said an Afghan intelligence officer came to his room late at night to tell him she was free.

"When they told me, it was very, very great news," he said. "It was the only night that I laughed and felt very, very happy."

Feroz said he was not harmed while in Afghan custody and is now spending time with his family.

"They didn't torture me," he said. "They were asking me the questions in the first few days very seriously."

He described the basement room where he was held as "very, very depressing" and said he was only allowed to leave to go to the bathroom three times a day.

In an official statement and subsequent interviews, Fung made it clear Feroz was not involved in her abduction.

"I just know there's no way Shokoor could have been involved, and I think every other journalist who has worked with Shokoor would say the same thing," Fung said following her abduction.

Feroz said he believes the appeals from the CBC and the Canadian government were the "main cause" of his release.