Former hostage Anthony Grey speaks out on behalf of French journalists held in Afghanistan
Anthony Grey, the Reuters journalist who was held hostage by Mao Tse-tung’s Red Guards in China for 27 months in the 1960s, is trying to help highlight the plight of the two French TV journalists Herve Ghesquière and Stephane Taponier who have been held hostage in Afghanistan since December 2009.
In a letter to the French journalists' families, Grey says: "Visiting France this week for the first time in a few years, I learned that Hervé and Stéphane had been held hostage in Afghanistan since 30th December 2009.
"There has been very little publicity about their plight in the UK to date. I now know that France 3 television mentions them everyday – but otherwise is enough being done to publicise their situation and bring about their early release? ... If you feel I can help in any way by making any appeals on your behalf, please let me know.
"When I became arguably the first Western hostage of the modern era, held in Beijing in solitary confinement for two years by Mao Tse-tung’s Red Guards, my case was widely publicised in France as well as all the countries of the Western world – eventually!
"For eighteen months the advice to the media from the British Foreign Office was in effect: publicity will not help and might do harm. Unfortunately this advice was largely observed, even by my employer Reuters news agency, with no notable success. This “embargo” was ultimately ignored after eighteen months and a welter of worldwide publicity lead to my release eight months later."
The French journalists were taken in Kaspia province northeast of Kabul in December and are believed to be held by Taliban group.
I am a freelance journalist based in the UK and was deputy editor of Press Gazette, the journalists' magazine, from 1993 until 2006. I want to give an independent view on media matters.
You can contact me with stories, ideas and comments by email at firstname.lastname@example.org You can also follow me on Twitter @jonslattery