The Committee to Protect Journalists says it is deeply concerned by the new demands made by a Taliban group that has been holding captive two French television journalists, Hervé Ghesquière and Stéphane Taponier, translator Mohammed Reza, and the group’s driver.
They were taken in Kaspia province northeast of Kabul, in December.
Speaking alternately in English and French, the two French reporters appeared on a videotape appealing for their release. An earlier video had been released in February.
“We call on the captors to release these journalists, their translator, and driver. It is a violation of human dignity to offer to trade lives,” said Bob Dietz, CPJ’s Asia program coordinator. “Hostage situations are fraught with danger, and we urge all sides to proceed with caution.”
In the new videotape, Ghesquière said that “the French president, Mr. Nicolas Sarkozy, must understand that we are now in danger of death. I repeat, the French president must negotiate very quickly, otherwise we will be executed soon.”
The Taliban said they sent the Afghan government a list of detainees whose release they demanded in exchange for the French prisoners.
France Television, which owns France 3, had been withholding the identities of Ghesquière, 47, and Taponier, 46, explaining that it was doing so to protect their safety. After the release of the video, the France 3 Web site said, the families of the hostages gave permission for the release of names and photographs of the two French journalists.
Reporters Without Borders said: “We are aware that the two French journalists were forced by their abductors to say what they said in the video. It is vital that the French authorities take the execution threats seriously. The blackmail methods used by the Taliban are unacceptable and place the journalists’ families and colleagues in a terrible situation. We reiterate our appeal for their immediate and unconditional release.”