It is obvious to all that Hervé Ghesquière and Stéphane Taponier, two French journalists finally freed by the Taliban after 547 days of confinement, were not simply released out of the goodness of their captors’ hearts.

In the BBC article, the French government denied any ransom was paid while the Afghan government denied any prisoner exchange. Television reporter Ghesquière stated that he was sure that he and cameraman Taponier were not freed “for chocolates” though he has no proof that there was an exchange of money or prisoners. Another reportage from France 24 gives a more French perspective.

Awareness-raising events have been held periodically during their long period of imprisonment. The French people never forgot them, and June 30, 2011 was a day of countrywide celebration. The two journalists and their interpreter, Reza Din, kidnapped in December, 2010 were all enjoying their first taste of freedom in a year and a half.

Special feelings were felt in our household. Tears filled Max’s eyes as he told me of the hostages’ release  reported on la Chaine 5, French television broadcast here in the United States. It was an emotional and joyous day. Welcome home!–Linda Ciampoli


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