Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Follow-up: The Release of Florence Aubenas

(Note: for background, see “More Euros for Terror?”.)

Robert Ménard of Reporters Without Borders on the French Foreign Ministry’s claim that no ransom was paid for the release of Florence Aubenas:
Everyone knows that it is not true. But it does not shock me that a ransom was paid. I do not know of any case of hostage-taking where one does not pay a ransom.
Ménard added:
The Minister is right not to say that a ransom was paid. It’s his role to say that there was no ransom and nothing given in exchange. Of course, something was given in exchange. Otherwise, they [the hostages] would not be here.
(Source: Interview on television channel Canal+, 13 June, via Le Monde.)

Also of interest, this passage from a chronology of the liberation of Florence Aubenas and Hussein Hanoun published in the newspaper Liberation [link in French] for which Aubenas works:

Before taking them to the place where they were to be liberated, the hostage-takers explain to Florence and Hussein how they will get through the numerous American and Iraqi checkpoints along the route: “You, you’re a journalist, you present yourself as such, you show your real papers. Hussein is your translator. That’s his role.”

Apart from all the other questions this account raises – notably concerning the coordination, or lack thereof, between the French authorities, on the one hand, and the American and Iraqi authorities, on the other: Was not Hussein Hanoun in fact Florence Aubenas’s translator?