PARIS (Reuters) - French President Francois Hollande reaffirmed on Thursday that Paris did not pay ransoms or exchange prisoners for the release of its citizens that are held hostage overseas.
When asked why France had been able to secure from Islamic State the release of four of its nationals in Syria earlier this year, while neither Britain nor the United States had been able to get their hostages released, Hollande said:
“France does not pay ransoms. France doesn’t engage in prisoner exchanges, but that doesn’t mean other countries don‘t. Some countries have done it to help us, I admit that,” he said.
The French hostages in Syria were released after getting help from other countries, he said without elaborating.
British and American officials have suggested in recent weeks that their nationals had been killed by Islamic State militants in part because other countries were paying ransoms.
France still has one hostage held in Mali by al Qaeda’s north African arm AQIM.
Reporting By John Irish; editing by Mark John