Home World Europe News French hostage journalists speak about Syrian ordeal

French hostage journalists speak about Syrian ordeal


The four 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”.

Nicolas Henin and Didier 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.

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

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

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

Didier Francois, 53, said he was “very happy to be free… to see the sky, to be able to walk and to be able to speak freely”.

“We spent six whole months in basements without seeing daylight, and for two-and-a-half months we were chained to each other,” he told his own radio station, Europe 1.

“It was a long haul, but we never lost hope,” Didier Francois added.

“From time to time, we got snatches of information, we knew that the world was mobilized.”

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.

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

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

Negotiations with their kidnappers had been going on for several weeks but it is not known if anything was offered to them in return for freeing the men.

Welcoming them at Villacoublay air base, south of Paris, President Francois Hollande called it a “day of great joy” both for the four journalists and for France.

“France is proud that these compatriots serve the freedom of the press and France is proud to have been able to secure their liberty,” he said.

Francois Hollande also denied that France had paid a ransom.

Syria has become one of the most dangerous places for journalists.

More than 60 journalists have been killed in Syria since the beginning of the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad three years ago.

[youtube KIPn2QsLkE0 650]

Roy likes politics. Knowledge is power, Roy constantly says, so he spends nearly all day gathering information and writing articles about the latest events around the globe. He likes history and studying about war techniques, this is why he finds writing his articles a piece of cake. Another hobby of his is horse – riding.