April 21, 2014 09:18
Four French journalists held hostage in Syria for 10 months are free.
Turkey's Dogan News Agency, or DHA, says Turkish soldiers found the men -- Didier Francois, Edouard Elias, Nicolas Henin and Pierre Torres -- on the border with Syria blindfolded with their hands bound.
They had been captured in two separate incidents last June while covering the conflict in Syria. Two of the journalists, Francois and Elias, worked for Europe 1 radio, while the other two were freelancers.
French President François Hollande expressed "immense relief" at their release.
He said the four journalists were "in good health, despite the very challenging conditions of their captivity" and would return to France "in the coming hours."
Footage broadcast by DHA showed the men at a Turkish police station and a local hospital with long beards and smiles on their faces.
"We are very happy to be free," said one of the journalists [Francois], before thanking Turkish authorities, who he said had "really helped" them. He added that it was "very nice to see the sky" and "to be able to walk" and "speak freely."
The release of the French men comes just weeks after the freeing of two Spanish journalists held by al-Qaeda breakaway group the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL.
The Committee to Protect Journalists says Syria is the world's most dangerous country for journalists.
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