French Journalists Held Hostage in Syria Describe Nightmare Ordeal

Four French journalists who were kidnapped and held hostage in Syria for ten months say that despite the nightmare ordeal, they never lost hope.

Edouard Elias, Didier François, Nicolas Henin and Pierre Torres went missing last June while working on assignments in Syria for French publications.

François and Elias were working for the French radio station Europe 1 when they crossed the border from Turkey to Syria. They disappeared on their way to Aleppo on June 6. A few weeks later, Henin and Torres disappeared covering municipal elections for Le Point magazine and the TV channel Arte.

The four men were held hostage together in basements and had no access to natural light for their entire captivity, according to an interview they gave to the BBC. François told Europe 1 that the men were chained together for two-and-a-half months.

Mr Francois, 53, told reporters it was "a great joy and an immense relief, obviously to be free. Under the sky, which we haven't seen for a long time, to breathe the fresh air, walk freely".

"It was a long haul, but we never lost hope," he added. "From time to time, we got snatches of information, we knew that the world was mobilised."

But it seems they might have been lucky—by the BBC's count, at least 60 journalists have been killed in Syria since the uprising against President Bashar Assad.

According to the BBC, Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said that the kidnappers were not given a ransom or weapons in exchange for the journalists' release.

He also told Europe 1 that "there was no question of contact with the Syrian government", saying only that the negotiation for their release "was of another nature".

The men were rescued on Friday and are said to be in good health despite the conditions they were kept in.

[image via AP]