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June 30, 2011

French journalists released by Taliban

By Myriam Dijck

Two French television journalists have returned home after being kidnapped by the Taliban and held hostage for 547 days.

Cameraman Stephane Taponier and reporter Herve Ghesquiere of state channel France 3 were welcomed by their family and colleagues when they arrived at a military airport near Paris.

Both men were said to be in good health.

At a press conference at the airport, Taponier said the insurgents had treated them humanely but that living conditions in the Afghan mountains were “very, very difficult”.

‘We were never mistreated, beaten or tied down,’Ghesquiere said.

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The Taliban reportedly accused the two men of spying. According to Sky News, French foreign minister Alain Juppe has denied paying a ransom and said Afghan minister Hamid Karzai helped secure their release.

Both men insisted they would continue their careers. ‘This is the job I like to do, and I still like it,’said Ghesquiere.

Afghan insurgents held the pair hostage from 30 December 2009 alongside their interpreter, who has also been released.

It was the longest time a French journalist has been held captive since the 1980s.

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