France denies ransom paid for Aubenas release
PARIS, June 12 (AFP) - The French government denied Sunday that a ransom was paid to secure the release of a French journalist, Florence Aubenas, and her Iraqi interpreter, who were taken hostage in Iraq over five months ago.
“There was absolutely no demand for money. No ransom was paid,” government spokesman Jean-Francois Cope told journalists as Aubenas and her interpreter, Hussein Hanun, returned home after being freed the day before.
“The one thing I can confirm to you is that there was no ransom paid,” he stressed.
Suspicions that France might have sought to pay off Aubenas’s kidnappers were voiced Saturday by the head of the Paris-based media rights group Reporters Without Borders, Robert Menard, who told AFP that the hostage-takers had made a ransom demand of USD 15 million within three weeks of her abduction.
“There is no hostage release without something in return and, among the demands, there is obviously a demand for money,” he said.
But, after the French foreign ministry retorted that his comments “about a so-called ransom in no way correspond with the reality,” Menard issued a statement saying he had “badly expressed himself.”
Subject: French News