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Wednesday, 17 October, 2001, 04:35 GMT 05:35 UK
Captive French reporter 'well'
Taleban fighters near Jalalabad
Mr Peyrard was arrested by the Taleban near Jalalabad
A French journalist arrested by the Taleban after illegally entering Afghanistan dressed as a woman has told the BBC he is being treated well.

Michel Peyrard, who works for Paris Match magazine, and two Pakistani journalists travelling with him have been charged with spying, an offence which carries a death penalty.

I'm well treated. I'm allowed to go out one hour a day. The food is okay

Michel Peyrard
A BBC journalist, Rahimullah Yusufzia, who was on a Taleban-organised visit to the eastern city of Jalalabad, was allowed to interview Mr Peyrard after securing permission from the local Taleban intelligence chief, Mullah Taj Meer.

Speaking from the house in Jalalabad where they are being held, Mr Peyrard said he was in a good condition.

"I'm well treated. I'm allowed to go out one hour a day. The food is okay. Of course I'm in a jail so it makes the situation a bit difficult, thinking I am a journalist and a journalist in jail is always something very strange," he said.

Nothing had been heard of the three men since they were detained near Jalalabad on 9 October.

'No leniency'

Mr Peyrard said he had crossed into Afghanistan without a visa and knew he might be arrested.

Michel Peyrard, pictured in 1988
Michel Peyrard said he knew he might be arrested
"I knew perfectly the risk to be arrested, that the probability was high. I was hiding myself crossing the border.

"I didn't plan to hide when I got to Jalalabad. I intended to work, to try to get in touch with the Taleban authorities and to try to get an official permit," he said.

Afghanistan's ruling Taleban banned foreign journalists from entering the country after the crisis with America erupted following the attacks on New York and Washington.

'Insulting women'

Mr Yusufzia says Taleban authorities feel Mr Peyrard committed a grave offence by insulting Afghan women with his disguise.

Pakistani newspaper, The News, quoted Mullah Taj Meer as saying: "We won't show leniency in this case as we did earlier while releasing British female journalist Yvonne Ridley on compassionate grounds."

Yvonne Ridley
UK reporter Yvonne Ridley was released after 10 days
Mr Peyrard, who has worked at Paris Match since 1983, said he would like to be freed "as soon as possible" and had already asked the Taleban authorities for permission to visit civilian areas that had been affected by the US air strikes.

A second French journalist arrested last week in Afghanistan was freed on Tuesday.

Thirty-three-year-old Aziz Zemouri, from Le Figaro magazine, was detained last Thursday and handed over to Pakistani authorities in the border city of Peshawar.

British journalist Yvonne Ridley was freed on 8 October after being held captive by the Taleban for 10 days.

Two Afghan guides arrested with Mrs Ridley near Jalalabad are still being held in the Afghan capital, Kabul.

The BBC's Rahimullah Yusufzia
talks to Michel Peyrard in the presence of the Taleban governor
See also:

10 Oct 01 | South Asia
Taleban charge three with spying
10 Oct 01 | South Asia
Ethnic divisions fuel Afghan fears
10 Oct 01 | South Asia
UN resumes Afghan food convoys
22 Sep 01 | South Asia
Eyewitness: Taleban in crisis
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