A former French hostage in Afghanistan refers to the payment of a ransom
LONDON - A former French hostages, Hervé Ghesquière, evoked Thursday night on the BBC the payment of a ransom to their Taliban captors, as part of the agreement which led to their release Wednesday after 18 months of captivity in Afghanistan.
- Asked about why they were released, Mr. Ghesquiere said, "for money, and for at least two prisoners released."
- "I have no proof," also said France 3 reporter: "Officially, there was no ransom. But of course it was not for chocolates."
- French and Afghan governments have denied that a ransom was paid for the release of Hervé Ghesquière and cameraman Stéphane Taponier.
- In Kabul, Taliban said in a statement Thursday to have exchanged the two journalists and their Afghan interpreter against prisoners. Some officials also discussed the payment of a ransom.
- Ghesquière says "it was clear from the beginning" that the Taliban wanted to exchange with Taliban prisoners.
- "The negotiations were very long," he said. "There are many Taliban commanders, many fragmented authority in the region."
- "It was very difficult for the French secret service to negotiate. I'm sure, because we are alive, they did a great job, but it was very, very long," he added.
- The two journalists from France 3 and their Afghan interpreter Reza Din, were released Wednesday. The French reporters arrived Thursday morning at the Villacoublay military airport, near Paris.
- Ennaharonline/ M. O.