Georges Malbrunot, 42 years old, had been freelancing from the Middle East for ten years when he was kidnapped in August 2004 in Iraq and held for 124 days with his friend, the journalist Christian Chesnot.
"It's a shock because... from the freedom to captivity and immediately my first reaction was I wouldn't be able... to breath for the first time in my life."
Up until then the two journalists would often pool their resources and travel together around Iraq. Despite the worsening situation, Georges had felt that being French might protect them against the increasing danger of kidnap or at least would allow their immediate release. He now says
"I was right and wrong, I was right because being French saved our life and I was wrong because... we stayed for four months"
"In the car, fifteen minutes after our capture one of our kidnappers told us in Arabic Chirac is a dog because of the veil... So I told him if you kill me you will not cancel the law, he said we use you, it's up to you to play the game or not. I said okay I will play the game."
Since his release Georges has moved back to Paris after 11 years in Jerusalem and he is working full time for Le Figaro as their Middle East correspondent.
"One guard came to us around 8 pm and told us patience, the news are good. And he was giving us at the time shampoo... And he told us you have to be nice to go back to Paris, So we told him 'Shukra', thank you in Arabic"
A poster from a campaign calling for Georges release
He has put his experience behind him and is back into doing his job of reporting on the Middle East, most recently he travelled to Iran and the Lebanon to cover the elections there. He plans to avoid Iraq for the time being.
"I think that what is important is really mobilisation in order for them not to forget the hostages. But if your government say, OK we don't deal with, don't bargain with terrorists, your case is, over."
The following is an extract from "Memoires D'Otages"
by Georges Malbrunot and Christian Chesnot, written about their experience in Iraq:
"Between the 15th and the 28th of September, around ten emails in total were exchanged between the kidnappers and Bernard Bajolet (French Ambassador to Baghdad) on his email address at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Islamic Army in Iraq outlined three sets of conditions that could secure our release: First for the French to reiterate their position on the illegality of the war and their refusal to send French troops to Iraq. They also had other demands like - no publicising the contact with the kidnappers, total discretion with all intermediaries, no money, no communication with the Americans. The demands were accompanied by a threat to kill the hostages if the coniditions weren't met. Finally there were political clauses, the kidnappers wanted to obtain concessions on the Islamic headscarf law." (copyright: Calmann-Lévy, 2005)