France uneasy about fate of missing journalist

7th January 2005, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Jan 7 (AFP) - French Foreign Minister Michel Barnier said Friday he was worried about the fate of a journalist from the daily Liberation, who went missing in Iraq in Baghdad two days ago along with her Iraqi translator.

PARIS, Jan 7 (AFP) - French Foreign Minister Michel Barnier said Friday he was worried about the fate of a journalist from the daily Liberation, who went missing in Iraq in Baghdad two days ago along with her Iraqi translator.

"We don't know what has happened," Barnier said, adding that he shared the concerns of Liberation staff over the safety of Florence Aubenas, a senior correspondent for the French newspaper.

"We are worried, but we have no certainties" about what happened to the two, Barnier told the private TV news channel LCI.

Aubenas, 43, and Hussein Hanoun Al-Saadi left their Baghdad hotel early Wednesday and have not been seen since, Liberation said Thursday.

The new drama followed the four-month captivity of French reporters Georges Malbrunot of Le Figaro newspaper and Christian Chesnot of Radio France Internationale, who were released by insurgents in Iraq on December 21.

The kidnapping and murder of foreigners in Iraq has become a frequent occurrence as rebel groups there seek to oust US and other military forces. Barnier said the French authorities were actively searching for Aubenas and her translator, including in hospitals.

"We're searching, we're asking for information, we've talked with the Iraqi authorities, we have visited the hospitals," he said.

Barnier repeated an official warning to journalists to stay away from Iraq. "Iraq is a dangerous country, one must be very careful - a dozen journalists have been killed, several have gone missing including Fred Nerac, who disappeared more than a year ago, and others have been kidnapped," he said.

Nerac, 43, a French cameraman for the British TV station ITN, went missing in November 2003 after the convoy he was travelling in came under fire, apparently from British or US forces, near Basra in southern Iraq.

"We have recommended to all media that they do not send journalists" into Iraq, said Barnier.

"I am fulfilling my responsibility which is to deliver warnings, but we also have a responsibility to aid our compatriots," said the minister.

"Each of us has his or her own responsibilities, journalists have their responsibilities to inform the public and they take on their responsibilities," he said.

Liberation said Aubenas, an experienced reporter who had covered conflicts in Rwanda, Kosovo, Algeria and Afghanistan, arrived in Baghdad on December 16.

 

© AFP

Subject: French News

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