A French journalist, Florence Aubenas, and her Iraqi
interpreter have been freed in Iraq after a five-month
hostage ordeal, officials in Paris today said, setting
off a wave of relief in France - but also raising
questions as to whether a ransom was paid.
Aubenas and the interpreter, Hussein Hanun, were "in
good health," President Jacques Chirac said in a
"On behalf of everyone, I want to express to Florence
Aubenas and Hussein Hanun our happiness and that of the
entire nation to know that they are free and will soon
be returning to us," he said.
After a brief stopover in Cyprus, Aubenas headed home to
Paris, where she was expected late today, on a French
government jet accompanied by French Foreign Minister
Phillippe Douste-Blazy. Hanun returned to his family in
The left-wing Paris newspaper Liberation for which
Aubenas worked said the two were freed yesterday.
"We are completely swept away with joy at Liberation.
It's a huge relief after five months of nightmare,"
managing editor Antoine de Gaudemar told AFP.
No details about the circumstances of the release were
given, and authorities did not identify the