EU chiefs plead with Afghan captors for TV men's release

3rd May 2011, Comments 0 comments

Top European Union figures pleaded Tuesday for the release of two French television journalists, held for the last year and a half in Afghanistan.

A day after the news of Osama bin Laden's killing by US special forces, European Commission head Jose Manuel Barroso and EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton each called for the release "without delay" of reporters or bloggers held the world over as they marked World Press Freedom Day 2011.

The commission held its main daily news briefing in Brussels under giant portraits of French reporters Herve Ghesquiere and Stephane Taponier, abducted in Kapisa province east of Kabul in 2009.

Barroso's spokeswoman Pia Ahrenkilde Hansen said the commission wanted to emphasize the plight of this pair, and three companions, after "almost 500 days" in captivity.

On Monday, French Defence Minister Gerard Longuet said the death of bin Laden could play a "positive" role in efforts to secure their release, although Prime Minister Francois Fillon later warned there were no certainties.

"Those who are imprisoned or held hostage today must be released without delay," Barroso said in a statement.

Ashton said media professionals and private bloggers are "targeted by those who dislike the nature of the information they reveal, suffering arrest or kidnapping, torture or killing," and also called for their immediate release.

© 2011 AFP

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