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Last Updated: Sunday, 12 June 2005, 14:36 GMT 15:36 UK
Profile: Florence Aubenas
Poster calling for the release of Florence Aubenas and Hussein Hanoun al-Saadi
Ms Aubenas' and Mr Saadi's plight mobilised press freedom activists
French journalist Florence Aubenas, who was freed on Saturday after a five-month hostage ordeal in Iraq, is no stranger to the world's trouble spots.

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".

Born in 1961 in Belgium - but with French nationality - Ms Aubenas studied journalism in Paris and began her career in 1984.

She joined Liberation two years later, and rose through the ranks to become a "grand reporter" - as the French call members of the foreign correspondent elite.

At home she also covered a number of high-profile court cases, notably the Outreau paedophile trial in 2004.

Campaign

Ms Aubenas travelled to Baghdad last December, and went missing with her Iraqi interpreter Hussein Hanoun al-Saadi on 5 January.

Little is known about their captivity.

Florence was remarkable throughout
Marie-Jeanne Ion
Romanian journalist and former hostage
But three Romanian journalists who were held hostage with her for more than two months - before being freed in May - paid homage to Ms Aubenas.

"Florence was remarkable throughout," journalist Marie-Jeanne Ion told Romanian TV.

"She constantly encouraged us. She never allowed us to give up hope that we would be released."

Her abduction transformed Ms Aubenas into a rallying figure for press freedom advocates in France and beyond.

The Paris-based group Reporters Without Borders worked tirelessly towards her release.

Her picture and that of Mr Saadi hung on walls in cities across Europe.

French broadcasters regularly reminded viewers that the two remained in captivity.

The campaign increased pressure on the government to do everything to secure her release - as it had done last year with two other French reporters captured in Iraq.

Ms Aubenas has written several books, including A Letter to a (missing) Iraqi Friend - about Iraq after the US-led invasion - and Two Eyes Too Many, on the 1994 Rwanda genocide.

She was writing a book on the Outreau trial at the time of her capture.


SEE ALSO:
French journalists freed in Iraq
21 Dec 04 |  Middle East
French reporter missing in Iraq
06 Jan 05 |  Middle East


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