French President François Hollande called Friday for the release of two French journalists missing in Syria. Their employer, Europe 1 radio, confirmed that it had lost contact with the pair; other media reported that they had been kidnapped.
“We have indeed lost contact with these two journalists, but we do not yet know the exact circumstances,” Hollande, on a three-day visit to Japan, told a joint news conference with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
“I demand the immediate release of these journalists because they do not represent any nation. These are men who have worked so the world can get information. Journalists must be treated as journalists,” Hollande said.
The two missing journalists have been identified as Europe 1 radio correspondent Didier François, 53, and freelance photographer Edouard Elias, 22. French business daily "Les Echos" reported that they were abducted by four armed men near Aleppo in northern Syria along with their fixer and their driver, and that the driver was later released.
According to Hollande's office, the two men were intercepted at a check-point.
"They disappeared, we must be careful. We don't know who took them, sometimes opposition groups do such things," a source in the president's entourage said.
French foreign ministry spokesman Philippe Lalliot said François and Elias could have been kidnapped “given that they were in an area where the situation is extremely dangerous".
Europe 1 confirmed that they had lost contact with the two journalists.
Since the start of the uprising against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime in March 2011, at least 24 journalists, including several foreigners, have been killed in the civil war, according to the Reporters Without Borders watchdog group.
US reporter James Foley, a freelancer who worked for AFP, GlobalPost and other outlets, is believed to have been seized by armed men in northern Syria's Idlib province on November 22. The 39-year-old remains missing.
Domenico Quirico from Italy's La Stampa newspaper has been missing since April but the Italian foreign ministry and the daily recently said he was "alive" and still in Syria.
Britain’s Sunday Times correspondent Marie Colvin was killed along with French photojournalist Remi Ochlik in an alleged rocket attack by Syrian regime forces in the city of Homs on February 22 2012.
(FRANCE 24 with wires)
Date created : 2013-06-07