Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

Macron vs. Le Pen: France's bitter presidential run-off race (part 1)

Read more

REPORTERS

The booming business of cannabis in Spain

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

Trump's First 100 Days, The Pope in Egypt (part 2)

Read more

FOCUS

Egypt's Coptic Christians targeted by Islamic State group

Read more

THE CAMPAIGN BEAT

France's wartime past takes centre stage in presidential campaign

Read more

#TECH 24

How one NGO is using 3D printers to improve disaster relief

Read more

REVISITED

What remains of Nicaragua’s revolution?

Read more

FRANCE IN FOCUS

Macron vs Le Pen: The battle for France's top job

Read more

ENCORE!

Paris's Louis Vuitton Foundation showcases contemporary African art

Read more

THE INTERVIEW

An interview with a French or international personality from the world of economics, politics, culture or diplomacy. Every Wednesday at 4.45 pm Paris time and Saturday at 7.45 am.

Latest update : 2014-04-29

Nicolas Hénin describes long ordeal as a hostage in Syria

© FRANCE 24

Nicolas Hénin spent 10 months as a hostage in Syria before he was freed, along with three other French journalists, last week. On Monday, he talked about his ordeal with FRANCE 24.

Hénin was kidnapped on June 22, 2013 in Raqqa, in the north of Syria. He was freed on the night of April 19 along with Pierre Torres, Didier François and Edouard Elias.

Hénin started his captivity in Aleppo but was moved frequently. By his calculation, he was held in 12 different places.

“I’ve been isolated from the rest of the world for 10 months, most of them underground with very little light,” he told FRANCE 24.

“The conditions were not always hard. The physical violence is not the worst,” he said. “The uncertainty of not  knowing what is going to happen the next day or the next minute is traumatising.”

“That is the conditioning of the hostages. That is itself already a sort of violence."

The German magazine Focus reported that the French government paid an 18 million dollar ransom for the hostages; a report the French government denies.

“The amount itself is so high I don’t find it serious,” Hénin told FRANCE 24.

“I’m quite sorry to hear that such an amount was propagated because it gives to bad guys, or potential bad guys, a price tag over the head of future journalists or humanitarian aid workers.”

Hénin said he was now torn over whether journalists should continue to cover the conflict in Syria.

“It’s stupid to risk so much for just a report. No report is worth a human life,” he said. “On the other hand it’s not possible to leave such a black spot on the world map with no information whatsoever going out and this is exactly what our captors have achieved.”

Hénin is now readjusting to "normal life" after 10 months in a series of dungeons.

“When you learn to pilot, the landing is always the most difficult part,” he said of his return. "It really takes time to reacclimatise."

“It was extremely emotional to see my relatives again, my parents, my kids,” he said, adding that psychologists had warned that his children, aged four and a year-and-a-half might be suspicious.

“It didn’t take more than a second for them to just jump on me and to realise that I am not a stranger, I am their dad and they didn’t want to release me - I was kidnapped again.”

By FRANCE 24

COMMENT(S)

Archives

2017-04-26 Germany

French presidential election: The view from Berlin

European leaders did not hide their relief when Emmanuel Macron won the first round of the French presidential election. The German chancellor's spokesperson wished Macron all...

Read more

2017-04-20 Edward Snowden

US whistleblower Snowden did 'the work of a patriot'

Harvard University professor Lawrence Lessig is a major advocate for privacy and online freedom and also tried to run for the 2016 Democratic nomination. He is in Paris to...

Read more

2017-04-19 French Presidential Elections 2017

France votes: 'It's very possible Le Pen won't make it to the second round'

On Sunday April 23, French voters will head to the polls for the opening round of the most unpredictable presidential election in the nation's modern history. If we're to believe...

Read more

2017-04-15 Recep Tayyip Erdogan

Turkey expert on Erdogan’s referendum: 'A return to the nineties'

Turkey is currently on everybody’s lips: On April 16, the country votes in a referendum that could dramatically change the constitution by heavily concentrating powers in the...

Read more

2017-04-12 Donald Trump

Non-partisan think-tank: ‘Impulsive element to how Trump sees the world’

Does Donald Trump have a foreign policy? If so, does anyone in his own administration know what it is? The answer to both questions is “no”, according to several White House...

Read more