Two French journalists freed by the Taliban after 18 months of captivity in Afghanistan are back home.
Stéphane Taponier and Hervé Ghesquière arrived on a French government plane at a military airport near Paris this morning. Cameraman Taponier told the waiting press that their captors never mistreated them, although he said the living conditions were very difficult.
Correspondent Ghesquière said his thoughts were with other people taken hostage in the course of their work in conflict zones, pointing to the case of the French nationals killed in Niger earlier this year.
The France 3 journalists and their interpreter were taken hostage in December 2009 east of the Afghan capital, Kabul. French President Nicolas Sarkozy announced their release late yesterday night.
Their kidnappers had vowed to kill both men unless a number of Taliban prisoners were freed. It is unclear if those demands were met. Paris denies paying a ransom to obtain the reporters’ freedom.
Taponier and Ghesquière’s detention attracted regular protests by French journalists to draw attention to their plight.
Since their abduction, French news bulletins have regularly ended with photos of the pair along with a count of days spent in captivity.