Sarkozy in about-turn over wounded French journalist in Syria
French President Nicolas Sarkozy had to execute an embarrassing about-turn Tuesday when he was obliged to retract an earlier apparent announcement that journalist Edith Bouvier was no longer in the Syrian city of Homs, where she was wounded last week.
“It is not confirmed that she is in safety in Lebanon today,” Sarkozy announced while on the presidential election campaign trail in the southern French city of Montpellier on Tuesday evening. “Communications with Homs are very difficult.”
Earlier he had declared himself “very happy that this nightmare is over”, adding that there had been “difficult negotiations”.
Bouvier has multiple fractures in her leg after being hit in a bombardment that killed her colleagues Rémi Ochlik and Marie Colvin and injured British reporter Paul Conroy.
Conroy was smuggled into Lebanon overnight Monday and on Tuesday a Lebanese official announced that both he and Bouvier were “safe and sound” in the country.
After Sarkozy’s first statement Le Figaro newspaper, for which Bouvier was reporting in Homs, announced that she was still in Lebanon and that it was untrue to say that she was safe.
Bouvier earlier made a video appeal to be taken out of Homs, where, she said, doctors were not able to carry out surgery on her injured leg.
After retracting his earlier statement, Sarkozy was forced to say sorry.
“I was imprecise earlier,” he said. “I apologise to you.”
Forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad were continuing to shell Homs on Wednesday. Bouvier and French photographer William Daniels were in the Baba Amro district, according to French daily Le Monde, which reported that 13 members of the rebel Free Syrian Army were killed during a failed attempt to take them to Lebanon on Monday night.
Sarkozy declares that Bouvier not in Lebanon