Fate of missing French reporter still unknown

17th January 2005, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Jan 17 (AFP) - The French government still has no firm information about what happened to journalist Florence Aubenas, who went missing in Iraq nearly two weeks ago, Foreign Minister Michel Barnier said Monday.

PARIS, Jan 17 (AFP) - The French government still has no firm information about what happened to journalist Florence Aubenas, who went missing in Iraq nearly two weeks ago, Foreign Minister Michel Barnier said Monday.

"At the present time, we don't have any confirmed information about their fate," Barnier told reporters, referring to the 43-year-old Aubenas and her Iraqi translator Hussein Hanun al-Saadi.

Aubenas, a senior correspondent for the French daily Liberation, left her Baghdad hotel with Saadi on January 5, and has not been seen or heard from since.

"I don't want to make any further comment at this stage, except to say that since Wednesday, January 5, the date on which we were informed of their disappearance, we have worked relentlessly, in Baghdad and in Paris, to obtain the information we need in order to know what happened to them," Barnier said.

French officials have refused to use the word "kidnapping" when describing her disappearance, but last week, visiting Iraqi interim President Ghazi al-Yawar expressed sadness over the "kidnapping of this innocent journalist".

Yawar, in Paris for fence-mending talks with French President Jacques Chirac, said the Iraqi government was "doing everything in its power to obtain the release of this French journalist and her guide".

A group of masked gunmen in Iraq claimed a few days after the disappearance of the French reporter that a "female journalist and the person with her" were in good health, but did not specifically identify the journalist as Aubenas.

Chirac has since warned French journalists to stay out of Iraq, saying their safety cannot be ensured.

Two French reporters, Georges Malbrunot of Le Figaro newspaper and Christian Chesnot of Radio France Internationale, were released by insurgents in Iraq on December 21 after being held hostage for four months.

© AFP

Subject: French News

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