Parents of French journalist held in Afghanistan speak out
The parents of one of two French journalists abducted and held in Afghanistan for nearly a year have broken their silence, expressing frustration at the lack of progress in freeing him.
"It's been a year, I really want my son back -- so we've decided to speak," Arlette Taponier, the mother of Stephane Taponier, told AFP.
Reporter Taponier and cameraman Herve Ghesquiere, who both work for France 3 television, were seized along with three Afghan colleagues on December 30 in an area northeast of Kabul rife with anti-government insurgents.
Thursday will mark the first anniversary of their abduction.
Arlette and Gerard Taponier were speaking out in their first media interview, just days after Afghan President Hamid Karzai promised France his full support in efforts to free the pair.
But the couple said they were tired of hearing upbeat statements from French government ministers that failed to come to anything.
"When (Foreign Minister) Michele Alliot-Marie speaks of a 'short time', we say to ourselves it's imminent. And then Christmas is already gone... We are still hoping for good news, but it gets you down," said Gerard.
Arlette Taponier complained that the French government had not kept them informed of developments. When they were received at the foreign ministry, she said, it was all "very vague".
"From the start they have been saying that they are alive and in good health. For the rest, it's all a 'military secret'," she added.
"When Bernard Kouchner (then foreign minister) went to Kabul, he didn't even telephone us when he got back. We knew nothing, which is a bit off."
That was in November. But the couple were encouraged by a visit to Afghanistan by newly appointed Defence Minister Alain Juppe, she added.
On Sunday in Kabul, Juppe said that he had received assurances from President Karzai that Afghan authorities were giving "all the help they can" in the case.
Last week France 3 television revealed that the latest video of the two men, which had been shot around mid-November, had been released to the French authorities.
The foreign ministry confirmed its authenticity but gave no further details.
In the video, Taponier talks to his family, while Ghesquiere talks to his partner, said the France 3 report.
The parents said they had not yet seen the video but they heard their son's voice.
French Foreign Minister Michele Alliot-Marie on Sunday expressed hope that the two reporters would be released as soon as possible.
"We known that they are alive, relatively healthy, although it is clear that after a year things are starting to weigh," she said.
A senior French military official in September suggested that the two reporters could be rescued by Christmas, but President Nicolas Sarkozy would not confirm this.
© 2010 AFP