French Journalists Kidnapped in Afghanistan Return Home

Posted June 30th, 2011 at 3:50 am (UTC-5)
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Two French journalists who were kidnapped in Afghanistan by Taliban insurgents and held for 18 months have returned to France after being freed by their captors.

The two reporters for France-3 television, Stephane Taponier and Herve Ghesquiere, arrived Thursday at a military airport near Paris.

Their Afghan translator, Reza Din, has also been released.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy praised Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Wednesday for his handling of the situation and thanked others involved in securing the hostages' freedom.

The journalists' release was also met with joy among their colleagues in France, where a pre-planned vigil was being held in Paris when the news broke Wednesday.

The Committee to Protect Journalists welcomed the release. The New York-based group said the journalists' ordeal is “a harsh reminder that reporting in Afghanistan continues to pose a challenge to reporters working in the country.”

The journalists, their interpreter and two other Afghan colleagues were abducted in December 2009 while working on a story about reconstruction east of Kabul. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the kidnapping.

There was no immediate word on why the kidnappers decided to free their hostages after holding them for 547 days. French officials said the government did not pay a ransom for them.