JANUARY 5. 2005
Updated: June 11, 2005
Florence Aubenas, Libération
Aubenas, a French journalist with the daily newspaper Libération, and her Iraqi translator, Hussein al-Saadi, were released by their kidnappers on June 11 after spending more than five months in captivity.
The two were abducted on or about January 5, when they were seen leaving their hotel in Baghdad. According to published reports, Iraqi President Ghazi al-Yawar announced on January 13 that Aubenas and al-Saadi had been kidnapped, although Yawar did not elaborate.
In a videotape released on March 1, Aubenas was shown looking pale and tired and stated that she was in bad health, The Associated Press reported. “Please help me. … It’s urgent,” Aubenas said on the tape. The journalist also pleaded for French lawmaker Didier Julia, who attempted to mediate the release of two other French journalists held hostage in Iraq last year, to help win her release.
The circumstances of the release were unclear, as was the identity of the group that held them for 157 days. French authorities did not immediately provide details about the release or the kidnappers. They have denied that a ransom was paid despite speculation in the French media.