Pakistan Frees Detained Journalist

By: Virginia Fenton, Associated Press Writer

(AP) A French journalist arrested last week in Afghanistan and turned over to Pakistan was freed Tuesday, the Foreign Ministry announced.

A second French journalist still held in Afghanistan was in good health and “apparently well treated,” his managing editor at Paris Match said.

Afghanistan’s ruling Taliban have barred foreign journalists during the crisis with the United States over last month’s terrorist bombings. Pakistan has tightened travel restrictions in its semiautonomous tribal region that runs along most of the border.

Aziz Zemouri, 33, of the weekly Le Figaro Magazine, was arrested Thursday, then handed over to Pakistani authorities. He was held in Peshawar before being released Tuesday morning, said the Foreign Ministry’s deputy spokesman Bernard Valero.

Zemouri, who holds French and Algerian citizenships, was traveling to Islamabad and expected to take the first available flight to France, Valero said.

Meanwhile, Olivier Royant, managing editor of the weekly Paris Match, said a tape interview with Michel Peyrard indicated he was in good health and apparently well treated. The interview was conducted by a Pakistani journalist at a house in the eastern city of Jalalabad where Peyrard is being held with two Pakistanis arrested with him.

“Michel’s morale is good. He’s in good physical condition and apparently well treated,” Royant said. “They have the possibility … to go into the courtyard an hour a day. This isn’t a prison.”

Peyrard was arrested a week ago by the ruling Taliban militia and charged with spying. The private Afghan Islamic Press said he was wearing a burqa, the full length veil that the Taliban require women to wear in public.

British journalist Yvonne Ridley, who works for the Sunday Express of London, was released after 10 days and sent to Pakistan earlier this month.

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