Ghesquière & Taponier freed by Afghan Militants
The world is very happy to tell you that 2 French journalists who had been held hostage in Afghanistan for 18 months were released on Wednesday, according to the French government and the television channel that had sent them there.
France 3 television said the reporters, Stéphane Taponier and Hervé Ghesquière, had been freed along with their interpreter, Reza Din. All three men appear to be in good health. The two journalists are expected to return to France shortly.
After one of France’s longest hostage ordeals, President Nicolas Sarkozy issued a statement Wednesday afternoon thanking “everyone who participated in freeing the hostages.” He also expressed gratitude to his Afghan counterpart, Hamid Karzai, for his help in the situation.
Both seasoned war reporters, Mr. Ghesquière, 47, and Mr. Taponier, his 46-year-old cameraman, were kidnapped by Taliban militants on Dec. 30, 2009, while reporting on a story on reconstruction of a road east of Kabul. Their captors had apparently made several demands in exchange for their release, though it was unclear Wednesday what those demands had been and whether any of them had been met.
News of their release was the first public sign of them since a November 2010 video.
“For the past several hours our two French hostages in Afghanistan have been in the hands of French forces at the Tagab base,” Prime Minister François Fillon of France told legislators in Parliament on Wednesday. He said the two “are in good health and will be on French soil within hours.”
“The wind of freedom that has blown — that is blowing — on the Arab world also needs to be taken into account by hostage takers, who need to realize that this is not the right way to meet their objectives,” he said. “They must free these men and women and join the democratic debate.”
Mr. Sarkozy called Béatrice Coulon, Mr. Ghesquière’s companion, to give her the news while she was attending a rally marking the 18-month anniversary of his capture, Reuters reported. “It’s the moment that I have been waiting for so long,” Ms. Coulon told French television, Reuters reported.
Thierry Taponier said he expected to see his brother at a military airport near Paris early Thursday, television reported.
The journalists’ release comes one week after President Barack Obama announced that the United States will pull out 10,000 soldiers from Afghanistan by the end of the year and 23,000 more by September 2012. France plans to start withdrawing its own troops in the coming months and complete its withdrawal by 2014.
Picture from L’Express France
Posted on June 29, 2011, in Politics and tagged afghanistan, attitude, cameraman, express, france, french, Ghesquière, Hamid Karzai, herve, hostage, journalist, l’express, new york, news, opinion, ordeal, paris, photo, picture, reporter Stephanie, Taponier, wordpress. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.