Ransom rumours after French Syrian hostages go free
Sunday 20 April 2014
Four French journalists held hostage by Islamist militants in Syria for 10 months were tearfully reunited with their families at a military airport near Paris today.
The four, seized last June while covering the Syrian civil-war, were dumped at the Turkish border on Saturday after lengthy negotiations by the French intelligence service.
French officials denied that any ransom had been paid but admitted that other, unspecified “conditions” had been met. The French media said that there was little doubt that money had exchanged hands, despite repeated statements by President Fran çois Hollande that Paris no longer paid ransoms for citizens held abroad.
Welcoming the four journalists in person at the Villacoublay air force base just south of Paris today, Mr Hollande said: “France is proud to have such valuable citizens who serve press freedom and France is proud to have obtained their freedom.”
Didier Fran çois, 53, a celebrated globe-trotting radio reporter, had earlier told his employer, Europe 1, that the quartet had spent six weeks chained together and ten months held in windowless basements.
“It is a great joy to be free, to see the sky, to be able to walk,” he said on arrival at Villacoublay. He went on to pay tribute to the “mobilisation and generosity of the French for for their journalists, for all citizens (held) abroad”.
“We are really lucky to be French,” he said.
Nicolas H énin, 37, a reporter for Arte the Franco-German TV channel, tearfully held his two small children.
“What's the best thing for a father?” he said. “To have your two kids in your arms.”
The two other released journalists were Pierret Torres, 29, who was also working for Arte, and Edouard Elias, 22, a photographer who was working for the website of Europe 1.
All had been held since last June said by a rebel group linked to Al-Qaida called the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
This group has increasingly been fighting against other more secular rebel movements rather than the regime of Bachar al-Assad, French officials said. It has been losing ground and is now mostly confined to eastern Syria.
The French external intelligence sevice, the DGSE, has been in contact with the rebels since the journalists were seized, French media said. It became clear that the rebels were ready to make a deal after Spanish journalists and aid workers were released last month.
The French defence minister, Jean-Yves Le Dian, made a secret trip to Ankara to enlist the help of the Turkish authorities. St éphan Le Fole, the government spokesman, said no money had exchanged hands.
The newspaper Le Parisien reported today however: “According to our information, the DGSE negotiated directly with the rebel group…T here can be little doubt that some payment was made.”
Previous French governments are known to have paid directly or indirectly for hostages, provoking criticism by the United States. President Hollande has repeatedly said that such payment would no longer be made.
- 2 Pope Francis issues top 10 tips for happiness – including don’t try to convert other people
- 3 Arturo Vidal to Manchester United: Midfielder set to force through move to Louis van Gaal's Red Devils - reports
- 4 Disney heiress Abigail disowns her share of family profits in West Bank company
- 5 Israel's propaganda machine is finally starting to misfire
Russell Brand accuses FOX News anchor Sean Hannity of terrorism after aggressive Israel-Gaza debate
Pope Francis issues top 10 tips for happiness – including don’t try to convert other people
Sabina Altynbekova, the girl branded 'too good looking' for volleyball, says social media obsession with her is a 'bit much'
Justin Bieber posts Instagram photo of Orlando Bloom crying after Ibiza fight 'over Miranda Kerr'
Disney heiress Abigail disowns her share of family profits in West Bank company
The secret report that helps Israel hide facts
Land for gas: Merkel and Putin discussed secret deal could end Ukraine crisis
Woman and two children killed by mob in riots over 'blasphemous' Facebook post in Pakistan
A day in the life of Vladimir Putin: The dictator in his labyrinth
Putin is 'thuggish, dishonest and reckless', says British ambassador to US
Richard Dawkins tweets: 'Date rape is bad, stranger rape is worse'
- < Previous
- Next >
£35000 - £40000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: .Mid Level V...
£40000 - £45000 per annum + Competitive Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: Dig...
£40000 - £50000 per annum + Car, Medical, Fuel + More!: Progressive Recruitmen...
£50000 - £60000 per annum + benefits: Progressive Recruitment: An absolutely o...