Four French journalists captive in Syria freed

Edouard Elias, Didier François, Nicolas Hénin and Pierre Torres were held hostage in Syria since June 2013

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One of the four French hostages freed after 10 months in captivity in Syria said Saturday he was "very happy to be free", Turkey's Dogan News Agency reported.

Didier Francois spoke briefly to a journalist at a police station in the small Turkish town of Akcakle near the Syrian border, according to images broadcast by the Turkish agency.

The television station showed footage of the four French journalists, all with long bears but appearing in good health.


The group was held captive in Syria for almost a year were freed and "in good health" on Saturday, President Francois Hollande told Agence France-Presse.

Turkish soldiers discovered the four blindfolded with their hands bound on the Syrian border on Saturday, Dogan News Agency said. It was reported that the military patrol who found the men initially through they were smugglers and were taken to a local police station.

In a statement to AFP, the president said he had "learned with great relief this morning of the liberation of the four French journalists."

He added that they were "in good health despite the very challenging conditions of their captivity" and would return to France "in the coming hours."

Edouard Elias, Didier François, Nicolas Hénin and Pierre Torres had been held hostage in Syria since June 2013 by rebel group Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). It was unknown who brought the captives to the Turkish border Friday night.


Francois, a veteran war correspondent working for Europe 1 radio, and Elias, a photographer, were abducted in early June on their way to Aleppo. Henin, who was working for Le Point magazine and Torres, reporting for French-German television channel Arte, were kidnapped later that same month.

Syria is the most dangerous place in the world for journalists, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.

Two French journalists remain missing in the Sahel region of North Africa.

(With Reuters and AFP)

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