Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

THE BUSINESS INTERVIEW

'Liberalism is a French tradition', says France's most liberal man

Read more

EYE ON AFRICA

Xenophobic attacks in South Africa prompt regional crisis

Read more

REPORTERS

Turkey’s hidden Armenians search for stolen identity

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

Mediterranean: 'On average, one migrant dies every two hours'

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

'A plea to Europe: Stop this tide of death'

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

'Europe's darkest day'

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

EU set to launch antitrust case against Gazprom

Read more

DEBATE

Migrant deaths: What is Europe going to do? (part 1)

Read more

DEBATE

Migrant deaths: Has Europe lost its compassion? (part 2)

Read more

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.

THE INTERVIEW

THE INTERVIEW

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

2015-04-18 US Presidential Election 2016

George Packer: The US ‘will have a very simple choice’ in 2016

Who will replace Barack Obama at the White House? As the 2016 presidential race starts to take shape, George Packer, staff writer for the New Yorker, tells us about his book "The...

Read more

2015-04-14 Russian military

Top Russian lawmaker: Missile sales to Iran 'will help support nuclear deal'

Russia has just lifted a ban on the sale of a sophisticated air-defence system to Tehran, a decision that has irritated the US and Israel. But Alexei Pushkov, Chairman of the...

Read more

2015-04-11 Syria

Yarmouk tragedy is proof of a 'clear failure of Palestinian leadership'

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said last week that Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp near Damascus was the "deepest circle of hell". Regime forces, Islamic State group militants...

Read more

2015-04-10 Libya

Libyan FM: 'We would like to see a unified Libya'

Rival governments, warring militias and a growing jihadist threat that has the entire region sounding the alarm... Nearly four years after Muammar Gaddafi's ouster, Libya is not...

Read more

2015-04-08 Marine Le Pen

'Marine Le Pen's strategy is to put on a moderate face'

For years, Marine Le Pen, the head of France's far-right National Front, has been trying to clean up her party's image to broaden its appeal.

Read more