Liberation 'shaken' by video of captive reporter

2nd March 2005, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, March 2 (AFP) - The French newspaper Liberation on Wednesday devoted the whole of its front page to its kidnapped reporter Florence Aubenas, missing for nearly two months in Iraq, who made a desperate plea for help in a video broadcast.

PARIS, March 2 (AFP) - The French newspaper Liberation on Wednesday devoted the whole of its front page to its kidnapped reporter Florence Aubenas, missing for nearly two months in Iraq, who made a desperate plea for help in a video broadcast.

The left-wing daily carried a still from the video of the journalist, looking dishevelled and exhausted, under the headline "My name is Florence Aubenas...", the English words with which she began the 50-second video, the first public evidence that she was probably still alive.

The film showed the veteran reporter seated on the floor, looking gaunt, with unwashed hair hanging over her eyes and grubby clothing as she appealed "Please help me. My health is very bad."

Liberation's editor-in-chief Serge July described himself as "shaken" by the video.

In an editorial the paper described the images as "50 testing and cruel seconds, brutally underlining the conditions of detention to which Florence Aubenas is subjected, 50 seconds which further reinforce concern over the interminable torment" of Aubenas and her Iraqi translator Hussein Hanun al-Saadi, who went missing with her but was not shown on the tape.

However the paper said the shocking images must also be seen as some comfort and encouragement "in the first place because it is the sign of life so awaited: Florence is alive, Florence is speaking." The video could also mark the beginning of negotations between her kidnappers and the French authorities, it said, adding that now was the moment to further mobilise to secure her release.

The paper has run daily messages from well-wishers for Aubenas and her translator, as well as for fellow-journalist Guiliana Sgrena of Italy's Il Manifesto, who was kidnapped in Baghdad in early February and has also appeared in a video begging for her life.

As well as making a front page mention every day, however small, of its missing reporter, the paper has also set up a web site carrying all the letters of support from the public and a selection of Aubenas' reporting work.

© AFP

Subject: French News

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