With the release on Monday of journalist Olivier Dubois, France officially no longer has any hostages in the world.
French journalist Olivier Dubois had been hostage in Mali for almost two years. The Nigerien Minister of the Interior, who received the Frenchman in Niamey, announced his release. Olivier Dubois was, officially, the last French hostage listed in the world. In October 2000, the Frenchwoman Sophie Pétronin was released and the journalist, who went through several editorial offices in France, was therefore the only French citizen still in captivity.
Abducted in Mali on April 8, 2021 in the Gao region, in northern Mali, by the Support Group for Islam and Muslims (Jnim), a Sahelian branch of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (Aqmi), Olivier Dubois was to interview a jihadist leader at the time.
On December 10, the French Minister of Foreign Affairs, Catherine Colonna, assured that France was doing “everything possible to allow the release” of the journalist, who notably worked for Le Point Afrique and Liberation. But according to several sources close to the Quai d'Orsay, the case of Olivier Dubois had not been placed at the top of the list of cases to be settled. Especially since the withdrawal of Paris from Mali had not helped to continue the negotiations.
“The withdrawal of Operation Barkhane from Mali in no way diminishes France's mobilization to free Olivier Dubois. Every effort is being made to obtain the release of our compatriot”, had tried to reassure François Delmas, the deputy spokesman for Foreign Affairs, several weeks ago. But the case of Dubois worried, journalists, relatives and editorial staff asking the president to speed up the process.
It was finally with the help of other foreign powers that France was able to free Olivier Dubois, who was freed with the American humanitarian Jeffery Woodke, who had been detained by the jihadists since 2016.
Woodke and Dubois were among six Westerners held by jihadists. The American had been kidnapped while working for an NGO in Niger.