RSF “overjoyed and relieved” at Olivier Dubois’ release
After campaigning constantly for his release for nearly two years, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is delighted to learn that the French journalist Olivier Dubois has finally been freed after being held hostage for 711 days by an armed group affiliated to Al Qaeda in the Sahel.
“We are overjoyed and hugely relieved. We had received reassuring news about Olivier Dubois on several occasions in recent months, and again very recently. He seemed to be in good shape but the length of his captivity worried us. We thank the French authorities for doing what was necessary to obtain his release. It is to France’s credit that it does not abandon its citizens when taken hostage, and works to get them freed. Our thoughts are with his family, especially his partner and his son. We salute all those who took part in the campaign for his release.
Dubois resurfaced, free and smiling, today, on 20 March 2023, in Niamey, the capital of Niger, which had been playing a major role in recent months in the efforts to obtain his release.
A freelance reporter for the French publications Libération, Le Point and Jeune Afrique, Dubois was kidnapped on 8 April 2021 in Gao, in northeastern Mali, after going there to interview one of the leaders of an armed group. A month later, on 5 May 2021, he appeared in a video, in which he confirmed that he had been taken hostage by the Support Group for Islam and Muslims (JNIM), a group affiliated to Al Qaeda.
Immediately after his abduction, RSF began campaigning for his release. It set up a unit to coordinate with his family, with media outlets and with journalists who have been hostages in the past. It organised support rallies, unveiled banners in more than 20 French cities, projected a huge photo of Dubois on the side of the Pantheon in Paris on 7 March 2022, and organised a media solidarity campaign with TV and radio stations.
No French journalist had 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.