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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IFJ on Twitter: @ifjasiapacific

 

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