Newswatch | Newswatch

You are here

“Baseless” Taliban accusation against abducted French journalists

Paris-based press freedom group Reporters sans Frontières (RSF) has described as baseless and unacceptable a claim by Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid that Hervé Ghesquière and Stéphane Taponier, two French TV journalists who have been held hostage for the past year in northwestern Afghanistan, were “engaged in gathering information that has the nature of intelligence gathering.”

“These grave accusations are a lie,” RSF secretary-general Jean-François Julliard said. “These two experienced France 3 journalists were doing their work as TV reporters when they were kidnapped. Identifying ‘reporting’ as ‘intelligence gathering’ is outrageous and constitutes a dangerous smear for all journalists working in sensitive areas.” RSF continues to campaign for the release of Ghesquière and Taponier and their three Afghan assistants, who were kidnapped with them, and reaffirms its support for their families.

Mujahid’s statement, made on January 1, is also worrying inasmuch as it increases tension between the government and Taliban and contrasts with the reassuring comments that the French authorities have been making, RSF said. The journalists’ families and the journalistic community in France should be briefed about the progress of negotiations with their kidnappers.

Calls for the release of the foreign and Afghan journalists held hostage in Afghanistan have been made repeatedly during the past year by Afghan journalists’ organizations and unions, senate president Sibghatullah Mojaddedi (who also heads the National Commission for Peace in Afghanistan), information and culture minister Makhdom Raheen and Council of Ulemas spokesman Fazel Ahamad Manawi.

Rahimullah Samander, the head of the Afghan Independent Journalists Association, urged the Taliban on December 27 to “respect journalists’ independence” and to immediately release “the two French journalists and their three Afghan assistants.”

Ghesquière and Taponier and their three Afghan assistants were abducted in the northwestern province of Kapisa on December 29, 2009. This is the longest that any French journalists have been held hostage since the late 1980s.

Date posted: January 5, 2011 Last modified: May 23, 2018 Total views: 166