Two French journalists and translator freed after 18 months in captivity in Afghanistan
PARIS (BNO NEWS) — France’s President Nicolas Sarkozy on Wednesday announced that two French journalists and a translator were freed after being in captivity for around 18 months in Afghanistan.
“The President welcomed the liberation of our two nationals, Stéphane Taponier and Hervé Ghesquière, as well as their translator Reza Din, kidnapped on December 2009 in Afghanistan,” the French presidential office informed.
Taponier, 46, and Ghesquière, 47, were abducted at the village of Umar Khel, between Sarobi and Tagab, close the Afghan capital city Kabul on December 30, 2009. The journalists and their Afghan translator Reza were kept as hostages for 547 days.
At the moment of their kidnapping, they were joined by Ghulam and Sattar, their Afghan fixer and driver respectively. However, there is no information on the whereabouts of these two men.
Taponier is a cameraman working with France 3 television who has covered the Iraq war and several armed conflicts in Africa. Ghesquière, also an employee of the same French magazine, is a journalist who has covered conflicts in the former Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq and Khmer Rouge in Cambodia.
President Sarkozy thanked his Afghan counterpart, Hamid Karzai, for the support provided for the release of the French nationals as well as all other Afghan authorities involved in the liberation process.
The release of the French journalists was a result of a long negotiation process between authorities of both sides. After the abduction, Sarkozy dismissed carrying a rescue operation as it was deemed as ‘too much risk’ for French soldiers.
In August 2010, French officials were able to communicate with the journalist by phone. The Taliban recorded and sent to videos during the 18 months as evidence that they were alive. The kidnappers demanded the release of Taliban prisoners in exchange.
Details of the release were not immediately available. The journalists are expected to arrive to Paris on Thursday morning. France announced recently that it will begin pulling its troops from the Asian country in July.
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