France 3 television journalists Herve Ghesquiere exults among colleagues at France Television headquarters in Paris June 30, 2011.
Ghesquiere and fellow journalist Stephane Taponier were captured on December 29, 2009, in Kapisa province, northeast of the capital Kabul, along with their Afghan driver and translator, and held hostage by the Taliban in Afghanistan for a year and a half.
The French government insists that no ransom was paid for its citizens, and Afghan officials contend that no Taliban prisoners were turned over. Still, Ghesquiere speculated to the BBC that the release of the two reporters after 18 months did not come about "for chocolates."
Validating the opinions of his organization's former captive, Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said, "France was forced to accept the conditions put forward by the Islamic Emirate [the Taliban] and agreed to an exchange in return for the release of a number of mujahideen leaders."
A mass release of Taliban prisoners by Afghan authorities certainly has a precedent.