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Taliban arrest French journalist

French magazine Paris Match journalist Michel Peyrard pictured in 1994
French magazine Paris Match journalist Michel Peyrard pictured in 1994  


ISLAMABAD, Pakistan -- The Taliban have arrested a second international journalist in Afghanistan and are threatening to charge him with espionage.

The French journalist was arrested on Tuesday disguised as a woman.

The private Afghan Islamic Press, citing Afghan sources, said he was detained along with two Pakistani companions about 20 miles east of the city of Jalalabad.

Relatives of the unnamed Pakistanis confirmed they were arrested, said The Associated Press.

An editor at the French weekly Paris Match said the journalist was Michel Peyrard, a reporter for the news magazine.

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"A French (citizen) has been arrested," the Afghan ambassador to Pakistan, Abdul Salam Zaeef, said on Wednesday.

"I don't know if he is a journalist or a spy. A satellite (telephone) also which he was carrying has been taken.

"As you know, the French earlier had announced they had sent some spies to Afghanistan, so an investigation is under way to prove that."

Paris Match Deputy editor Patrick Jarnoux said Peyrard telephoned him late on Monday from Pakistan and said he planned to enter Afghanistan in the Jalalabad area.

Peyrard, in his mid-30s, had already ventured into Afghanistan once this month, Jarnoux told AP.

France's foreign ministry said it was trying to track down Peyrard.

The Taliban ordered all foreign journalists to leave the country shortly after the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York and on the Pentagon, in Washington.

Officials said the Frenchman would be charged with espionage, the Afghan Islamic Press reported.

It quoted unidentified Taliban officials as saying Taliban security seized a satellite telephone, tape recorder and other "equipment used for spying."

Yvonne Ridley
Ridley was freed by the Taliban after 10 days  

In the Pakistani border city of Peshawar, relatives of the two Pakistanis said they were journalists from a tribal area along the Afghan border.

The media lobby organisation Reporters Without Borders has issued an appeal to the French and Pakistani governments to use all possible contacts to win the release of Peyrard.

He is the second Western journalist arrested in Afghanistan since the crisis with the United States.

Yvonne Ridley, a British journalist arrested in the Jalalabad area after sneaking into Afghanistan last month, was released on Monday after being held for 10 days and amid initial Taliban's accusations that she was a spy.

Ridley, 43, who works for the London-based Sunday Express, is expected to return to Britain later this week.



 
 
 
 


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