Four French journalists held hostage in Syria for more than 10 months have returned home.
Freshly shaved and beaming, Nicolas Henin, Pierre Torres, Edouard Elias and Didier Francois
were met at an airbase by President Francois Hollande, their families and friends.
“It’s a great joy and an immense relief, obviously, to be free. Under the sky, which we haven’t seen for a long time, to breathe the fresh air, walk freely,” veteran Europe 1 reporter Francois said in an impromptu speech at the side of his fellow ex-hostages.
French authorities have released no details of their liberation. Turkey’s Dogan News Agency first reported that an unknown group transported the journalists blindfolded and with hands bound on Friday night to the southeastern border of Turkey, where they were discovered by Turkish soldiers.
Henin told France 24 radio on Saturday that they had not been bound and blindfolded at the border. On Sunday, he told reporters on the tarmac, however, that the four had “not always” been treated well and had been moved from place to place many times by their captors.
Neither Turkish nor French authorities have identified the journalists’ captors, but Dogan said it was the rebel group Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).