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
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.
information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific
on +61 2 9333 0919
represents more than 600,000 journalists in 131 countries
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