Monday, February 22, 2010

Military chief says France has spent $13.6 million to try to find missing journalists in Afghanistan

France has spent more than $13.6 million to try to track down and free two journalists held captive in Afghanistan since December, the head of the French military said Sunday. In an interview with Europe-1 radio and Le Parisien newspaper, French chief-of-staff Gen. Jean-Louis Georgelin said he made the price tag public because he is urging "everyone to have a sense of responsibility," a message aimed at French reporters covering danger zones. But Georgelin said he does not want to "question the right of free expression and freedom of the press."
A week ago, the Taliban released a video of the two journalists for France-3 television pleading for their government to negotiate with their captors. Both said they were in good health and had been well treated. The two disappeared Dec. 30 along with two or three Afghan employees while travelling in Kapisa province east of Kabul. French soldiers in the region are fighting Taliban and other insurgents as part of the NATO-led mission in Afghanistan.

Media advocacy group Reporters Without Borders criticized Georgelin for making the price tag public, calling his comments "out of line."

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