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Iraq Transition

Reporter pleads for help in video


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Iraq
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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- A video has been released showing a French journalist -- missing in Iraq since early January -- pleading for help.

In the video obtained by news agencies in Iraq Tuesday, Florence Aubenas, 43, is shown sitting with arms around knees in front of a plain red background.

No insignia or people are visible in the picture. It was not immediately known when the video was shot.

"My name is Florence Aubenas, I am French," a haggard-looking Aubenas said. "I am journalist with Liberation (a French newspaper).

"Please help me, my health is very bad. I'm very bad psychologically also. Please, it's urgent now, help me."

Aubenas was abducted on January 5 along with her interpreter as they left their hotel in the Iraqi capital.

Speaking at the Mideast conference in London, French Foreign Minister Michel Barnier said French authorities were examining the undated tape and believed the journalist was still alive.

He said he had spoken to her family and said that her rescue was a governmental priority.

"We will take all the measures that we consider useful. We will spare no effort."

Aubenas arrived in Baghdad on December 16. The newspaper described her as "a top reporter" and said she has covered events in Rwanda, Kosovo, Algeria, Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as several major trials in France.

Two French journalists who were held by an insurgent group for four months in Iraq were released on December 21 and taken back to France.

After Aubenas was abducted, French President Jacques Chirac warned journalists in France to stay out of Iraq, because their safety could not be guaranteed.


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