French journalist held hostage longer than any other since 1980s
On 8 October, a reporter kidnapped in Mali on 8 April 2021 will have been held hostage longer than other French journalist since the Lebanon hostage crisis in the 1980s. Reporters Without Borders (RSF) calls on the French and Malian authorities to intensify efforts to obtain Olivier Dubois’ release.
A Mali-based reporter for Libération, Le Point and Jeune Afrique, Dubois will have been held hostage for exactly 18 months, or 548 days, on 8 October. This is one day more than Stéphane Taponier and Hervé Ghesquière, two France 3 journalists who were held by the Taliban in Afghanistan for 547 days, from 2009 to 2011.
And it is much longer than the other French journalists who have suffered a similar fate since the start of the 2000s – Christian Chesnot and Georges Malbrunot (124 days in Iraq in 2004), Florence Aubenas (157 days in Iraq in 2005), Didier François and Edouard Elias (317 days in Syria in 2013/2014) and Nicolas Hénin and Pierre Torrès (300 days in Syria in 2013/2014).
No French journalist has been a captive for such a long time since 1980s, when a series of Western citizens were held hostage in Lebanon. They included Jean-Paul Kauffmann, a French reporter for L’Événement du Jeudi, who was held by Hezbollah for a total of 1,078 days - nearly three years.
“Olivier Dubois is sadly setting a record for the time a French journalist has been held hostage,” RSF secretary-general Christophe Deloire said. “We are aware that the case is complex and we are grateful to those working for his release, but we ask the French and Malian authorities to step up their efforts so that Olivier can recover his freedom without having to count more months or hundreds of days go by.”
Little information has emerged about Dubois since his abduction by an armed group affiliated to Al Qaeda. Only two videos of him, filmed by his captors, have been released. In the most recent one, on 14 March 2022, Dubois asked his supporters to keep campaigning for him, and asked the French authorities to keep working for his release.
RSF has taken many initiatives since his abduction – setting up a unit to coordinate with his family, leading media outlets and journalists who have been hostages in the past, organising support rallies, unveiling banners in more than 20 French cities, projecting a huge photo of Dubois on the side of the Pantheon in Paris on 7 March, and organising a solidarity campaign with TV and radio stations.
Mali is ranked 111th out of 180 countries in RSF's 2022 World Press Freedom Index.