Controversial French MP to Join Aubenas's Search

Download 'Florence Aubenas hostage video.wmv'

Appearing alone in front of a maroon-colored background, Mme Aubenas looked tired, distraught, and in obvious bad health. Her hair uncombed, she was dressed in a white sweater and grasped her knees with her arms as she spoke.

"My name is Florence Aubenas. I'm French. I'm journalist in Liberation. Please help me. My health is very bad. I'm very bad psychologically also. Please it's urgent now. Help me. I ask especially Mr Didier Julia, the French deputy. Please Mr Julia, help me, it's urgent. Mr Julia, help me."

Mme Aubenas, a veteran war correspondent for the daily Liberation, and her Iraqi translator, Hussein Hanoun al-Saadi, were last seen leaving her Baghdad hotel. The video was dropped at the offices of an international news agency in Baghdad. It was not possible to verify the tape's authenticity or when it was made.

Before the video, there had been no firm word on the fate of the 43-year-old who previously has covered Kosovo, Algeria, Rwanda, and Afghanistan in her 19 years with newspaper.

French lawmaker Didier Julia, whose name became known last year with his attempts to save the two abducted French journalists, has been asked by the French government to cooperate in the search.

Didier Julia, who has been cited in a criminal investigation for "communication with a foreign power against the interests of the French state", appealed for the "freedom" to mount a rescue attempt. The government, his colleagues in President Jacques Chirac's UMP party and senior editors at Libération all said it was not desirable that Julia should become involved.

The centre-right deputy was an apologist for the Saddam Hussein regime in Iraq. His attempts to free two kidnapped French journalists last year - which are alleged to have delayed their actual release by several weeks - are believed by the French security services to have been inspired, or manipulated, by Syria. The unofficial Julia rescue mission ended in farce and public exchanges of insults between the parliamentarian and French diplomats.

Liberation argues that the naming of Didier Julia has given "political connotations" to what seemed like a crime committed merely for ransom. Mr Julia, the paper notes, is an old "member of the pro-Syrian and pro-Iraqi lobbies within the UMP".
The paper believes that Ms Aubenas was forced by her kidnappers to mention Mr Julia as part of what it calls "a coded message to the French authorities".
It thinks the kidnapping may have been "hijacked for geostrategic reasons" with the aim of "bringing pressure to bear on President Chirac" following his recent statements calling for the withdrawal of Syrian troops from Lebanon and supporting the democratic process in Iraq.

Another woman journalist in Iraq, Giuliana Sgrena of the left-wing Italian newspaper Il Manifesto, was abducted by gunmen in Baghdad on Febrary 4.

She appeared in a video last month begging for her life and warning foreigners to leave the country. She was held by a previously unheard of group called Mujahedeen Without Borders.

More than 190 foreigners have been abducted in Iraq in the past year. At least 13 foreigners remain in the hands of their captors, more than 30 were killed and the rest were freed or escaped.


God bless all of those who still have the courage to do humanitarian work in Iraq. 

Posted by angiekruger
3/03/2005 01:08:00 pm  
"those who still have the courage to do humanitarian work in Iraq "

Amen, Angie. These are the ppl with REAL courage, in comparison with the soldiers with 21st century weapons hanging off their shoulders. 

Posted by WhyNot
3/03/2005 01:48:00 pm  
"those who still have the courage to do humanitarian work in Iraq "

I agree as well. I have an Aunt who runs a foster home in the Phillippines, and I have nothing but respect for what she does. She has dedicated her entire life to these unfortunate kids with no families. She has been doing this since 1989. I just did a quick search on the Internet and found this article about her: http://www.paoc.org/testimony/article.cfm?ArticleID=112

I'm actually going to go post a blog about her right now.

Thanks the posting.

Posted by Jim
3/03/2005 10:02:00 pm  
PS: One key point I missed, she has had many bomb threats in the past by some extremists, because she's a Christian humanitarian, but she's still not deterred...  

Posted by Jim
3/03/2005 10:11:00 pm  



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