'Ceausescu network helped free Aubenas' claim

13th June 2005, Comments 0 comments

BUCHAREST, June 13 (AFP) - The Romanian press said Monday the so-called "Ceausescu network" of Arabs close to the late communist leader played a big role in securing the release of French hostage Florence Aubenas in Iraq.

BUCHAREST, June 13 (AFP) - The Romanian press said Monday the so-called "Ceausescu network" of Arabs close to the late communist leader played a big role in securing the release of French hostage Florence Aubenas in Iraq.  

Three Romanian journalists claimed Sunday that they were held with Aubenas, a reporter for French daily Liberation, during a part of her five months in captivity.  

The Romanian daily Une Cotidianal ran a headline saying "French journalist saved by Ceausescu's network" and wrote that Aubenas owed her release Saturday to the same people who helped to have the Romanian hostages freed on May 22.  

Aubenas, her Iraqi guide and the Romanians "owe a big debt to the old boys' network of Iraqis who came to Romania as students" during the rule of Nicolae Ceausescu, it said.  

The paper said that to save the Romanians, Bucharest called on the former communist security police, the Securitate, "because they were the only ones who could appeal to the former Iraqi students to intervene to save the journalists".  

"In order to negotiate the release of Florence Aubenas and her Iraqi guide Hussein Hanun, the French authorities used the same Ceausescu network," it said.  

The daily Gardinual followed the same line, asking: "Will France recognise the role the Romanian secret services played in Florence's release?"  

It quoted government sources as saying that Romania "played a very important role in this release."   

Averea newspaper reproached French President Jacques Chirac with not singling out Romania in his television address on Sunday to welcome the release of Aubenas and Hanun.  

Immediately after arriving in Paris on Sunday, Aubenas denied that she had been held hostage in the same place at the Romanians.  

But in Bucharest this was merely seen a sign that she had not yet been told that the Romanian journalists had revealed that they were held together in Iraq for a month and a half.  

The former Romanian hostages have described Aubenas as a strong woman who had helped them not to lose heart and said they had previously kept quiet about being held with her in order to protect her.  

"We are incredibly happy that she has been freed, because we were held in the same place for almost a month and a half, from the first of April," television reporter Marie-Jeanne Ion said.  

Ceausescu, who was executed in a bloody revolution in 1989, cultivated friendly relations with the Arab world and large numbers of young Syrians and Iraqis came to Romania during his rule.  

Romania's rich and influential Arab community today still counts about 1,000 Iraqis.

© AFP

Subject: French News

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