Timeline of a captivity: French journalists held in Afghanistan
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French journalists Stephane Taponier and Herve Ghesquiere have been held hostage in Afghanistan since Dec. 2009, a long traumatic period that has seen official strategy shifts and a debate on whether to publicize their plight.
Dec. 2009 – March 2010: Media coverage of kidnapping is muted – due to security concerns. News organisations refrain from broadcasting the full names of the journalists. Official French response is initially testy. French President Nicolas Sarkozy publicly grumbles about the risk to French soldiers’ lives by running operations to try to rescue kidnapped reporters in their “impudent” quest for “scoops”. A senior French military official, Gen. Jean-Louis Georgelin, deplores the prohibitive cost of such rescue operations, putting the figure at 10 million euros.
April 12, 2010: France Television publicly discloses the full names and identities of the two journalists.
April 16, 2010: Sarkozy meets with France Television President Patrick de Carolis. Experts say the meeting marks a dramatic change in tone of the official French response to hostage crisis. Following the meeting, media organisations start reporting the men’s full names and many public news organisations, such as FRANCE 24, start featuring a count on the number of days in captivity.
June 22, 2010: French Defense Minister Hervé Morin and France Television President Patrick de Carolis visit Afghanistan. Carolis says negotiations were intensifying.
July 2010: According to the French daily, Le Parisien, members of the French security service, the DGSE, have a phone conversation with the hostages - first with Taponier and a few days later with Ghesquiere.
Oct. 25, 2010: A star-studded free concert is held in Paris to commemorate 300 days of Taponier and Ghesquiere’s captivity and to raise public awareness about their plight.