French TV journalists demand to go to Iraq

27th January 2005, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Jan 27 (AFP) - Journalists working for state-owned French television on Thursday demanded permission to send correspondents into Iraq despite a management ban imposed by hostage-taking and rampant violence against all foreigners in the country.

PARIS, Jan 27 (AFP) - Journalists working for state-owned French television on Thursday demanded permission to send correspondents into Iraq despite a management ban imposed by hostage-taking and rampant violence against all foreigners in the country.

The call came as France anxiously seeks information on a French newspaper reporter who went missing three weeks ago in Iraq, shortly after two other French reporters were released by Iraqi insurgents.

"There are volunteers ready to go to Iraq despite the dangers linked to terrorism, despite the risk of kidnapping, because they believe that these risks are part of their profession," the union covering the reporters at the main public channels France 2 and France 3, the Society of Journalists, said in a statement.

The journalists argued that their presence was all the more important now to cover planned Iraqi elections set for Sunday, and they demanded the right to decide individually whether to go or not.

The union said the head of the parent company France Televisions, Marc Tessier, had ordered a halt to sending reporters to Iraq without first consulting journalists who had spent time in the country and who had a feel for the situation there.

It warned that it would not tolerate the channel using freelancers or reporters from other French outlets for the coverage of the elections.

French President Jacques Chirac advised journalists to stay out of Iraq following the January 5 disappearance of 43-year-old Florence Aubenas, a senior correspondent for the left-leaning newspaper Liberation.

Aubenas and her Iraqi translator Hussein Hanun al-Saadi have not been seen or heard from since they left her Baghdad hotel on that day.

Representatives of France's biggest media outlets met on Monday to express their solidarity with Aubenas and discuss ways of pooling their efforts in covering Iraq to minimize the risks to journalists on the ground.

Two other 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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