French hostages freed by Al-Qaeda after three years amid claims a £17million ransom was paid
Pierre Legrand, 28, Thierry Dol, 32, Daniel Larribe, 62, and Marc Feret, 46 were all captured in 2010 during raids on a uranium mine in Niger
Four Frenchmen held for three years by Al-Qaeda terrorists got home yesterday to claims that a £17million ransom was paid for them.
Pierre Legrand, 28, Thierry Dol, 32, Daniel Larribe, 62, and Marc Feret, 46 were all captured in September 2010 during raids on a uranium mine near Arlit, northern Niger, where they were working for nuclear giant Areva.
But as they flew home “in good health’’, newspaper Le Monde claimed intelligence agencies paid a ransom.
French president Francois Hollande and senior ministers insisted “France does not pay ransoms”, claiming diplomatic negotiations were used to free the men.
But the Le Monde newspaper reported that the country’s intelligence agencies paid a ransom of more than 20 million euro, equivalent to more than £17 million for the release of the hostages.
Travelling with the men on a presidential jet from Niger were Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian and Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius.
Mr Fabius said the men had spent their freedom ‘sleeping on the floor’ because they had become so used to not having mattresses.
He said all were ‘in good health’, and looking forward to meeting family and friends who had campaigned constantly for their freedom.
Mr Feret will be meeting his three-year-old son for the very first time, as the boy was born while he was in captivity.