[QODLink]
Middle East

French journalists kidnapped in Syria freed

Four journalists found on the Turkish border with Syria after being kidnapped last June by al-Qaeda-linked group.

Last updated: 19 Apr 2014 13:10
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Photographer Edouard Elias, right, and Liberation newspaper reporter Didier Francois are part of the group [AFP]

Four French journalists kidnapped in Syria last June by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group have been found by Turkish soldiers on the border with Syria. 

Nicolas Henin, Pierre Torres, Edouard Elias and Didier Francois were found on Saturday in Sanliurfa province with their hands and eyes bound.

An unknown group brought the journalists to the border last night, the Turkish news agency Dogan said.

They had been captured in two separate incidents in June last year while covering the conflict in Syria.

Footage of the journalists broadcast on Turkish television showed them looking unkempt, with beards and long hair, but they appeared to be in good health.

"I'm very happy to be free," said 53-year-old Francois. "We thank the Turkish authorities because they really helped us. And it's very nice to see the sky, to be able to walk and to be able to speak freely."

The Turkish soldiers initially took them for smugglers but took them to a police station in the small town of Akcakle near the border when they realised they were speaking French.

About 30 foreign journalists covering the Syrian civil war have been seized since the conflict began in March 2011, and many are still missing.

Reacting to the developments, the French presidential office released a statement saying that Francois Hollande "has learned with great relief this morning the release of the four French journalists who were held hostage in Syria since June 2013".

"Edouard Elias, Didier Francois, Nicolas Henin and Pierre Torres are in good health, despite the extremely harsh conditions of their captivity. They will arrive in France in the next hours," the statement read.

It said Hollande remained concerned about the fate of two other French nationals still held in the Sahel.

"He reaffirms his support to their families and reiterates his determination and the relentless mobilisation of the state for their release," the statement added.

320

Source:
Agencies
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Topics in this article
People
Country
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
At least 25 tax collectors have been killed since 2012 in Mogadishu, a city awash in weapons and abject poverty.
Tokyo government claims its homeless population has hit a record low, but analysts - and the homeless - beg to differ.
3D printers can cheaply construct homes and could soon be deployed to help victims of catastrophe rebuild their lives.
Lack of child protection laws means abandoned and orphaned kids rely heavily on the care of strangers.
Featured
Booming global trade in 50-million-year-old amber stones is lucrative, controversial, and extremely dangerous.
Legendary Native-American High Bird was trained in ancient warrior traditions, which he employed in World War II.
Hounded opposition figure says he's hoping for the best at sodomy appeal but prepared to return to prison.
Fears of rising Islamophobia and racial profiling after two soldiers killed in separate incidents.
Group's culture of summary justice is back in Northern Ireland's spotlight after new sexual assault accusations.