Five Members of Media Crew in Afghanistan Finally Safe

The Afghan Independent Journalists’ Association (AIJA) welcomes the release of two French journalists and their Afghan interpreter, 18 months after they were taken hostage in the north-eastern Afghan province of Kapisa.


Reporter Hervé Ghesquière and cameraman Stéphane Taponierm, of France 3 TV, and their Afghan interpreter Reza Din are now safely back in their respective homes.


A driver and a local facilitator for the news crew, identified only by the names of Ghulam and Sattar, were also taken captive at the same time and released some weeks back. This detail was kept secret to ensure that no harm came to the three remaining hostages.


Authorities in Afghanistan and France confirmed the release of the three media workers late on the evening of June 29, Afghan time.


They had been taken hostage by an armed group while covering the ongoing armed insurgency against the Kabul government and its western armed backers.


“We are delighted that this prolonged trauma is now over, and particularly relieved to note that at no point during their captivity were the media workers or their associates physically harmed,” IFJ Asia-Pacific Director Jacqueline Park said.


The AIJA, an affiliate of the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), has noted that village elders in Kapisa province were significant mediators in the negotiations that led to the release of the three media workers.


The IFJ welcomes the involvement of local civil society in ensuring the safety of the media team and hopes this will lead to greater awareness of the need to treat news-gathering as a protected activity, even in zones of the most intense conflict.


“While welcoming the release of the media workers, we would appreciate a degree of transparency about the circumstances leading to their release,” Park said.


One of the French journalists on arrival back home has suggested that the release was part of a deal involving a prisoner swap and possibly a ransom payment.


This incident follows a recent pattern of journalists held for prolonged periods by supposed insurgents being released after an opaque process of negotiations.


For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +61 2 9333 0919


The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 131 countries


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