Florence Aubenas (born February 6, 1961 in Brussels) is a Belgian journalist, who worked until 2006 for the French newspaper Liberation. She was taken hostage on January 5, 2005, in Iraq along with her translator Hussein Hanoun Al-Saadi. Ms Aubenas travelled to Baghdad last December, and went missing with her Iraqi interpreter Hussein Hanoun al-Saadi on 5 January 2005. Little is known about their captivity … On March 1, 2005, a video tape was found in Iraq, in which Aubenas asked for help. She spoke English and declared she was in bad health. In the end of the 26-second video, she mentioned the name of Didier Julia. The French authorities and Florence Aubenas’ family were given another video (on CD-ROM) a week earlier. Florence and Hussein were freed on June 11, 2005. (full text).
She says: “When you live through something so public, it becomes a communal story. People who recognize me, congratulate me, it’s a little funny. Was I really a hero? For me, a hero is someone who leads a fight, gloriously, with a firm stand. I didn’t fight for anything. I was captured, held and delivered. I was an object” … and: “I might savor my coffee more in the morning, but when it comes to the big issues, I don’t see life any differently”. (full text).
Florence Aubenas – Belgium
She works for the french journal ‘Liberation‘.
In the course of a 19-year career with the daily Liberation, she has covered many conflicts – including those in Rwanda, Kosovo and Afghanistan. She is a great professional who is used to danger zones, Liberation newsroom chief Antonie de Gaudemar told AFP news agency. Another colleague described her as plucky but not reckless … (full text).
She says also: “I had no stratagems, no tricks. You are simply obliged to put up with it, you have no choice” … and: “Baghdad is at the heart of the major issues of our time. For a foreign correspondent it is a dream to be there” … (full text).
Aubenas, a veteran war correspondent for the daily newspaper “Libération”, and Hanoun al-Saadi were abducted on 5 January by unidentified individuals. Dozens of European media organisations and journalists, including 150 news media executives and editors, rallied to support Aubenas and Hanoun al-Saadi and raise awareness of the kidnappings. Hanoun al-Saadi was reunited with his family in Baghdad shortly after his release, while Aubenas arrived home in France on 12 June. (full text).
This level of support is even dangerous: terrorists and kidnappers are excited by media coverage, they seek for it. Noise encourage them to keep their hostage and even to kidnap more. Let me say that the kidnappers of Florence and hussein must have been flattered totally (actually Florence precised it) and probably were encouraged in keeping her a little more, who knows even to kill her to be a little bit more famous. Terrorists are not rational people… Can this give ideas to other terrorists: probably. Why not after all? Kidnapping a French journalist is the best way to become famous instantly now … (full text).
Florence Aubenas (née le 6 février 1961 à Bruxelles) est une journaliste française. Elle a effectué la plus grande partie de sa carrière au sein du quotidien Libération comme grand reporter jusqu’à sa démission en 2006. Lors d’un reportage en Irak en 2005 elle a été retenue en otage pendant plusieurs mois … (texte en entier).
Campaign to free Florence Aubenas and Hussein Hanoun Al-Saadi;
Chronologie des événements depuis la disparition de Florence Aubenas et de Hussein Hanoun Al-Saadi (avec AFP, Reuters et Associated Press).
Reporters Without Borders RWB (rporters sans frontières RSF);
Conflict in Iraq, resources, links, information.