Hervé Ghesquière

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In Mali, a war 'without images and without facts'

Soldiers with the Malian army speak to journalists. (Reuters/Joe Penney)

The French army is often called la Grande Muette, or "the Great Silent." The war in Mali confirms the French military's well-deserved reputation of being secretive about front-line actions. "Locking the information is more in the culture of the French army than of the U.S. army," says Maurice Botbol, director of La Lettre du Continent. In the first two weeks of military operations against Islamist militant groups in Mali, the French army has released only a blurry video of an air attack at an undisclosed location.

Hervé Ghesquière (AFP/Miguel Medina)

"Of course you have to go to Afghanistan or to Syria," said French TV reporter Hervé Ghesquière, who was held hostage for 547 days in Afghanistan together with his cameraman, Stéphane Taponier, between December 2010 and June 2011.

Stéphane Taponier, left, and Hervé Ghesquière say they will return to work as soon as possible. (Reuters/Gonzalo Fuentes)

Stéphane Taponier and Hervé Ghesquière, the two France 3 journalists held captive by the Taliban for 547 days, had a big surprise when they entered the France Télévisions building Thursday afternoon, a few hours after landing at the military base of Villacoublay, close to Paris, where they were welcomed by President Nicolas Sarkozy. 

'Free the hostages!' was the rallying cry for those seeking the release of Hervé Ghesquière, left, and Stéphane Taponier. (AFP/Michel Gangne)

New York, June 29, 2011--Eighteen months after their abduction in Afghanistan, the Committee to Protect Journalists welcomes the release of France 3 television crew members Hervé Ghesquière, Stéphane Taponier, and Reza Din.

New York, June 29, 2001--The Committee to Protect Journalists welcomes reports from the French government that journalists Hervé Ghesquière and Stéphane Taponier and their interpreter Reza Din have been released after more than 18 months in captivity. CPJ is seeking further news about the group's fixer and driver, known as Ghulam and Sattar, who were also abducted.
A poster in the Jardin du Luxembourg in Paris shows French hostages Stephane Taponier (left) and Herve Ghesquiere. (Reuters/Benoit Tessier)

On December 29, 2009, Stéphane Taponier and Hervé Ghesquière, two seasoned reporters with the French public service TV channel France 3, and their three Afghan assistants, were taken hostage in Afghanistan. One year later, a sense of cautious optimism seems to prevail in Paris. On December 20, French authorities announced that they had received a video showing the hostages "in good health" although "they appear weakened by the detention." According to Paul Nahon, director of France 3, the video--which was not publicly broadcast--was shot "around November 20."

'Free the hostages!' is the rallying cry for those seeking the release of Hervé Ghesquière, left, and Stéphane Taponier, who were kidnapped in Afghanistan. (AFP/Michel Gangne)

Hervé Ghesquière and Stéphane Taponier, two journalists from the public television channel France 3, along with their Afghan translator, Mohamed Reza, and two assistants, Ghulam and Satar, have been held hostage for 300 days in Afghanistan.

New York, September 9, 2010--The Committee to Protect Journalists welcomed the release of British journalist Asad Qureshi from captivity in Pakistan. He was held for more than five months in a tribal area bordering Afghanistan.
French journalists Hervé Ghesquière, left, and Stéphane Taponier, held captive in Afghanistan. (AFP)

On Wednesday, I posted an item about the dangers to journalists in Pakistan, reminding readers that at least two reporters--Canadian freelancer Beverley Giesbrecht, who goes by the name Khadija Abdul Qahaar, and British journalist Asad Qureshi--are being held captive somewhere along the border with Afghanistan. I later received a few e-mail messages reminding me that there are at least three journalists still being held in Afghanistan as well. Here are updates on the Afghan cases:

Taponier, left, and Ghesquière. (AFP)
New York, April 14, 2010--The Committee to Protect Journalists is deeply concerned by the new demands made by a Taliban group that is holding captive two French television journalists, Hervé Ghesquière and Stéphane Taponier, translator Mohammed Reza, and the group's driver. They were taken in Kapisa province, northeast of Kabul, in December.

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