Video released of French journalist kidnapped in Mali by al Qaeda group

Video released of French journalist kidnapped in Mali by al Qaeda group

A French journalist who disappeared in Mali last month has appeared in a brief video, saying he has been kidnapped by Islamist militants in the west African country and pleading for help to be released.

Olivier Dubois called on family, friends and French authorities to do all they can to free him in the 21-second clip.

A source from France’s foreign ministry confirmed the disappearance of the journalist and said the department was in contact with his family.

They said the ministry was carrying out technical checks on the authenticity of the video, which news agencies have not yet been able to verify.

The footage shows a man sitting cross-legged on the floor who says: “I am called Olivier Dubois. I am French. I am a journalist.”

The man, touching his feet while speaking and with a leg bouncing up and down, says he was kidnapped on 8 April in Gao, a city in Mali.

He says he was abducted by the al-Qaeda affiliated group Jama’at Nusrat al-Islam wal Muslimin (JNIM).

“I’m asking my family, my friends and the French authorities to do everything in their power to free me,” he adds.

Reporters Without Borders, a media freedom non-profit group, said Mr Dubois is an “experienced reporter who knows the region well”.

“We were informed of his disappearance two days after he went missing,” the Paris-based organisation said in a tweet.

“In coordination with the news organisations that usually employ him, we took to the decision not to report his abduction in order not to hamper the possibility of a rapid positive outcome.”

Christophe Deloire from Reporters Without Borders said Mr Dubois normally worked for France’s Le Point magazine and Liberation newspaper.

The media freedom group’s secretary said Dubois was reporting in Gao in Mali when he went missing and “knew this very dangerous area in the country’s east very well”.

Mr Deloire said the reporter did not return to his hotel after lunch on 8 April.

“We are asking Malian and French authorities to do everything possible to obtain his release,” he said.

Mr Dubois’s kidnapping makes him the first French national to be taken hostage by jihadist militants in Mali since Sophie Petronin, a humanitarian worker, was freed last October.

Ms Petronin, who was 75 years old at the time of her release, said she had been treated relatively well during her captivity, which lasted nearly four years.

Scores of Islamist insurgents were released in a prisoner swap deal that liberated Ms Petronin, a senior Malian politician and two Italians last year.

France has repeatedly denied paying ransoms directly for hostages in the past.

Around the same time as the group of hostages were released, Switzerland said Beatrice Stoeckli, a Swiss woman being held hostage in the west African country, had been killed by JNIM the month before.

Mali has been in turmoil since a 2012 uprising prompted mutinous soldiers to overthrow the president.

The power vacuum that resulted ultimately led to an Islamic insurgency and a French-led military campaign that ousted the jihadists from the cities they controlled in northern Mali in 2013.

But insurgents remain active and extremist groups affiliated with al-Qaeda and the Islamic State group have moved from the arid north to more populated central Mali since 2015, attacking targets and stoking animosity and violence between ethnic groups in the region.

Additional reporting by agencies

Desk Team

Desk Team