Barnier reluctant to say reporter 'kidnapped'

11th January 2005, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Jan 11 (AFP) - French Foreign Minister Michel Barnier on Tuesday refused to use the word 'kidnapping' to describe the disappearance last week of a newspaper journalist and her translator in Iraq.

PARIS, Jan 11 (AFP) - French Foreign Minister Michel Barnier on Tuesday refused to use the word 'kidnapping' to describe the disappearance last week of a newspaper journalist and her translator in Iraq.

"At the current time, I would not speak about a kidnapping. We're trying to find them. We're mobilised, we're seeking information, we've made all the right contacts," Barnier told private RMC radio.

Barnier said Monday he still had no conclusive information about the reasons for the disappearance last Wednesday of Florence Aubenas, a senior correspondent for the French daily Liberation.

Aubenas, 43, and her interpreter Hussein Hanun al-Saadi were last seen at their Baghdad hotel and have not been heard from since.

A group of masked gunmen in Iraq claimed last week to a group of reporters that a "female journalist and the person with her" were in good health, but did not specifically identify the journalist as Aubenas.

The French foreign minister said Paris shared the concerns of Aubenas's family and colleagues, and warned journalists working in Iraq of the heightened risks of kidnapping in the violence-wracked country.

On Friday, French President Jacques Chirac warned journalists to stay out of Iraq, saying their safety could not be ensured.

The news of Aubenas's disappearance came just a few weeks after the release of French journalists Christian Chesnot and Georges Malbrunot, who were held hostage for four months by Iraqi insurgents.

© AFP

Subject: French News

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