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France - Afghanistan

Freed hostage reporters thank RFI for support

Ariane Gaffuri

The French journalists just released after 18 months of captivity in Afghanistan have thanked RFI for keeping them in touch with the world. Hervé Ghesquière and Stéphane Taponier told RFI that listening to the radio was their main way of passing the time as their Taliban kidnappers kept them in a series of tiny rooms cut off from the outside.


“RFI kept us connected with life,” Taponier told RFI’s French service, which broadcast messages from friends and family every Thursday in the hope that the two were listening. “My first concern when I changed my placer [of imprisonment] was to find out if I could get RFI. If I got RFI it was OK.”

Dossier: AfPak news and analysis

Spokespeople for the pair’s employer, France 3, have also stressed the importance of RFI’s broadcasts for the pair’s morale.

Speaking to RFI’s English service, Ghesquière, who is a cameraman, expressed his joy at his long-awaited release.

“I am well because I am so happy,” he said.

“The negotiations were very long and very hard but they succeeded,” he said thanking the French secret services and army.

One of the pair’s main complaints was typically French – they didn’t think much of the food.

“For French food is important and for life food is important and there was a big, big problem with that,’ Ghesquière said.

And after discussing with his captors he believes that the Taliban’s primary concern is now nationalist rather than Islamist.

“They want that the foreign troops leave Afghanistan … They are national Islamist, this is [a] political fight before religion.”

There is no question of giving up journalism, including war reporting, so far as Ghesquière is concerned.

“I want to continue my job – not only on war zones - this is my life because I want to explain what happened in the world because it is important what happened in the world,” he said.

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