French Hostages Freed and Returning Home

Four hostages from France, who were held for more than three years, have returned to Paris for emotional homecomings following their release by their captors.

The four were held for three years in Niger and were reportedly released by militants that are linked to al-Qaeda after a ransom of more than $27 million was paid.

The four, all males, were kidnapped back in 2010 when they worked for a nuclear group from France called Areva. Their captors released them on Tuesday following a series of secret talks.

The four arrived at Villacoublay a military airport just outside Paris, where they were greeted by friends, family and French President Francois Hollande.

The former hostages – Daniel Larribe, Theirry Dol, Marc Feret and Pierre Legrand also met first lady Valerie Trierweiler.

President Hollande said he felt immense joy welcoming home the men and praised the four’s bravery following three years of hardships, waiting and great suffering.

All four men declined Hollande’s offer to speak at the press conference.

Amidst joy of the hostage’s return was mounting controversy over what conditions were included in their release.

A source who is close to the negotiating team from Niger that helped secure their release, told a news agency that despite assurances to the contrary by the French government, a ransom was paid.

Le Monde newspaper quoted a source in France as saying over 20 million euros had been paid.

The captors were demanding at one time 90 million euros for the release of the four. The Defense Minister in France Jean-Yves Le Drian insisted that France has a policy that they do not pay.

The four men appeared to be very thin when they stepped off the plane but other than that in good health.

In their first night of freedom, the three slept on the floor as they had done for three years, despite having a hotel bed.

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