Fears grow for FrenchTV reporter abducted in Iraq

14th April 2004, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, April 14 (AFP) - France on Wednesday demanded the immediate release of a French TV journalist, Alexandre Jordanov, who was kidnapped in Iraq last weekend and who has not been heard from since.

PARIS, April 14 (AFP) - France on Wednesday demanded the immediate release of a French TV journalist, Alexandre Jordanov, who was kidnapped in Iraq last weekend and who has not been heard from since.

"France demands the immediate and unconditional release of our compatriot, and of all the other civilians being held against their will in Iraq," government spokesman Jean-Francois Cope said after a cabinet meeting.

He said officials were working in Iraq to secure Jordanov's release, and he repeated an official recommendation first issued Tuesday that all French citizens leave Iraq.

France's culture minister, Renaud Donnedieu de Vabres, said there has been "no news" about the 40-year-old journalist since his capture last Sunday by a group of armed men 50 kilometres (30 miles) south of Baghdad.

Foreign Minister Michel Barnier added that France had received no claim of responsibility for the abduction of Jordanov. "All our services are mobilised to find him," he said.

Jordanov was seized along with his cameraman, Ivan Cerieix, who was later released, according to his employer, the Paris-based CAPA television agency.

They were the latest in a spate of kidnappings in Iraq apparently designed to pressure countries in the US-led occupation to withdraw their troops from the country.

France, which opposed the US invasion of Iraq last year, has no forces there.

The foreign ministry on Tuesday urged French citizens in Iraq to leave the country. It said there were fewer than 100 of its nationals in the country, mainly aid workers, journalists, some employees involved in reconstruction projects and diplomats.

Jordanov and Cerieix had been filming a documentary programme for French pay-TV channel Canal Plus when they witnessed an attack on a logistical convoy north of Baghdad.

They started to film the clashes between US troops and a group of Iraqi fighters, but were separated as they sought cover from the shooting.Cerieix was seized but later released by a Sunni Muslim armed group, CAPA and Canal Plus said in a joint statement.

No information has emerged concerning Jordanov.

The presenter of the television show he was working for, Karl Zero, told Wednesday's Le Parisien newspaper that he had seen images of the journalist as the US military convoy came under attack.

"He had taken off his white shirt and waved it about, shouting: 'No shoot, no shoot'," Zero said.

An estimated 40 foreigners from the United States and 11 other countries in Europe and Asia are believed to have been kidnapped by insurgents in Iraq, the US-led coalition announced on Tuesday.

The crisis has forced both governments and foreign companies involved in rebuilding the war-torn country to rethink their strategies.

Some countries are mulling a withdrawal of their troops, while Russia said it will on Thursday begin to evacuate those among more than 800 Russia and former Soviet citizens working for Russian contractors who want to leave.

© AFP
       
                                                                 Subject: French news

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