French Journalist Released after 2 Years in Jihadists’ Captivity
“Olivier Dubois is free,” French President Emmanuel Macron tweeted on Monday, announcing the release of a French journalist whom an armed group affiliated to Al Qaeda held hostage for 711 days in Africa’s Sahel region.
went missing in early April 2021. He reappeared a month later in a social media video claiming to have been kidnapped by the armed group in Gao, Mali.Dubois was on his way to interview one of the leaders Jamaa Nusrat al-Islam wal-Muslimin (Support Group for Islam and Muslims) when he
“I am asking my friends, family and the French authorities to do everything in their power to free me,” he said in the video nearly two years ago.
Dubois, a freelance journalist for the French periodicals Libération, Le Point, and Jeune Afrique, emerged, free and smiling, on Monday in Niger’s capital Niamey, according to Reporters Without Borders (RSF), a Paris-based international media freedom watchdog, which was strongly campaigning for his freedom.
The RSF also said that Niger has played a significant role in recent months in securing the release of the journalist, and President Macron expressed his gratitude to the African country.
“We thank the French authorities for doing what was necessary to obtain his release. It is to France’s credit that it does not abandon its citizens when taken hostage, and works to get them freed,” RSF Secretary-general, Cristophe Deloire, said.
The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists, an NGO that promotes press freedom and defends the rights of journalists, also welcomed Dubois’ release, but warned of dangers that still lurk in some African regions.
“Mali’s conflict and constitutional crisis have acutely increased risks for journalists. While Dubois’ release is a relief, journalist safety continues to be concerning,” said CPJ Africa Program Coordinator Angela Quintal.
She urged all parties, including jihadists, to “refrain from criminal actions to silence the press.”
Olivier Dubois returned on Tuesday to Paris, where family, friends and president Macron welcomed him at Villacoublay air base, as the Euronews video showed.
RSF emphasized that no French journalist had been held captive for so long since the 1980s, when a number of Western people were taken hostage in Lebanon, or French reporter for L'Événement du Jeudi, Jean-Paul Kauffmann, who was held by Hezbollah for nearly three years – from 1985 to 1988.