Search This Blog

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Hostage reporters 'chained' in Syria

Hostage reporters 'chained' in Syria

Last updated Apr 20, 2014, 6:11 AM EST

French President Francois Hollande and journalists
President Francois Hollande and relatives met the journalists as they arrived home

French journalists released from captivity in Syria have been speaking about their ordeal at the hands of suspected Islamist rebels.

Didier Francois said the four men were chained to each other and kept in basements without natural light.

His colleague Nicolas Henin added that they were "not always well treated".

Mr Henin and Mr Francois, along with Edouard Elias and Pierre Torres, were greeted by their families and President Francois Hollande on arrival in France.

They had been found by Turkish soldiers on the Syrian border late on Friday.

The jihadist group Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) has been accused of kidnapping them.

'Happy to be free'

Television footage after their reappearance in Turkey showed the men looking unkempt, with beards and long hair, but in good health.

They had shaved by the time they arrived at Villacoublay military airport, outside Paris.

Mr Francois, 53, told reporters it was "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".

"It was a long haul, but we never lost hope," he added. "From time to time, we got snatches of information, we knew that the world was mobilised."

He told his own radio station, Europe 1 that they had spent "six whole months in basements without seeing daylight, and for two-and-a-half months we were chained to each other."

The journalists were found blindfolded and handcuffed in a no-man's land in Turkey's border province of Sanliurfa and were taken by Turkish soldiers to a police station in the nearby town of Akcakale.

The men went missing in two separate incidents last June.

Mr Francois, a veteran war correspondent, and Mr Elias, a photographer, were abducted in early June on their way to Aleppo.

Mr Henin, who was working for Le Point magazine, and Mr Torres, reporting for French-German television channel Arte, were taken later that month near Raqqa.

No comments:

Post a Comment