French Afghan hostage journalists freed
Two French journalists who have been held hostage in Afghanistan for 18 months have been freed, along with their interpreter. Hervé Ghesquière and Stéphane Taponier, who work for France 3 television, were captured in Kapisa province on 30 December 2009, along with two interpreters and a driver.
They have been held by the Taliban since their capture and Osama bin Laden threatened France over their case before his death.
President Nicolas Sarkozy announced that the reporters had been freed early Wednesday, “along with their interpreter Reza Din”. France 3 editor-in-chief Pascal Golomer confirmed that the two journalists were released from captivity.
"We are very delighted and very happy to hear this news, " Afghan journalists’ union (AIJA) leader Rahimullah Samander told RFI. "Everybody is happy in Afghanistan, all the media organisations and especially members of the association."
He said that he understood that all the Afghan hostages had been freed.
"AIJA was struggling to release them for over a year," he said. "We did a big investigation on the case. We find people to help them get food and everything in Kapisa province in NE Kabul."
Sarkozy thanked Afghan President Hamid Karzai and “all those who participated in the liberation of the hostages”. Details of how they came to be freed were not immediately available.
French troops operate in Kapisa. France recently announced that it will start withdrawing its troops from Afghanistan in July.