Four ex-hostage journalists back in France after Syria ordeal

The group was kidnapped in the war-ridden country in June but released and entered Turkey earlier on Saturday

Four ex-hostage journalists back in France after Syria ordeal

World Bulletin/News Desk

Four French journalists who were held captive in Syria for more than 10 months arrived back in France on Sunday, a day after being found blindfolded and with hands bound at the Turkish border.

The group was kidnapped in the war-ridden country in June but released and entered Turkey earlier on Saturday, where they were welcomed by Turkish army officials in the southern border province of Sanliurfa.

Edouard Elias, 22, Didier Francois, 54, Pierre Torres, 29 and Nicolas Henin, 38, were first accommodated at a hotel in Gaziantep, another Turkish city bordering Syria and then moved on to Gaziantep Airport.

They boarded a French Air Force plane that had come to bring them back to their country and left Turkey at 9.30 p.m. local time (1930GMT).

They descended from a military helicopter at the Villacoublay airbase southwest of Paris on Sunday morning, where they were greeted on the tarmac by French President Francois Hollande and their families.

French President Hollande said that the men would be taken to their homes after a medical check-up.  

Earlier, Turkey's Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu talked to the four by phone to "share their happiness" following their release.

'Grueling conditions'

French President Francois Hollande said in a statement that the men were in good health, "in spite of the very grueling conditions of their captivity".

Didier Francois, a senior war correspondent working for Europe 1 radio, and Edouard Elias, a photographer, were kidnapped in early June on their way to the Syrian city of 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.

It is not clear who or what groups kidnapped the journalists.

As the Syrian conflict enters its fourth year, the country has become the most deadly for journalists who are regularly kidnapped and murdered, human rights groups say.

On March 3, France-based Reporters Without Borders released a report containing the names and countries of journalists who have disappeared or been abducted around the world.

Currently, the list for Syria includes 22 journalists - 12 foreigners and 10 Syrians.

Last Mod: 20 Nisan 2014, 10:14
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