Hope for Aubenas after Romanians freed in Iraq

23rd May 2005, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, May 23 (AFP) - The release of three Romanian journalists who had been held hostage in Iraq is good news for French reporter Florence Aubenas and her Iraqi guide kidnapped in January, Aubenas's boss said Monday.

PARIS, May 23 (AFP) - The release of three Romanian journalists who had been held hostage in Iraq is good news for French reporter Florence Aubenas and her Iraqi guide kidnapped in January, Aubenas's boss said Monday.  

"We are very happy for them, and we see their release as a positive development for Florence and Hussein," said Serge July, the founder of France's left-wing Liberation newspaper, where Aubenas works.  

Aubenas and her Iraqi interpreter Hussein Hanun al-Saadi, who went missing after leaving her Baghdad hotel on January 5, are among some two dozen foreigners still unaccounted for after being taken captive in Iraq.  

The former Romanian hostages, Marie-Jeanne Ion and Sorin Miscoci of Prima TV and Eduard Ohanesian, a correspondent for the newspaper Romania Libera, returned to Bucharest on Monday after being released the day before.  

July said after a meeting with top French editors about the Aubenas case that efforts to free the pair were difficult because "those sponsoring the hostage-takers have not yet been identified".  

"That's why it's taking so long," he added.  

In the cases of the Romanians and Italian journalist Giuliana Sgrena, who was freed in March after a month in captivity, the kidnappers were quickly identified and thus easier to negotiate with, July said.  

"In the French case, we fear it could be less straightforward," the Liberation boss said.   "France's situation in Iraq is delicate. It's a country in which we ultimately don't have many friends. It's more difficult for France to manage these hostage situations than for countries in the (US-led) coalition," he said.  

Earlier, French President Jacques Chirac telephoned his Romanian opposite number, Traian Basescu, to congratulate him on the release of the three Romanians, saying it brought fresh hope for the release of Aubenas and Hanun.  

The secretary general of media watchdog group Reporters without Borders, Robert Menard, called for more intense efforts to free Aubenas and Hanun, saying French authorities should step up their contacts in the region.

© AFP

Subject: French News

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