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4 French journalists freed after 10 months held hostage in Syria

By Laura Smith-Spark, CNN
April 20, 2014 -- Updated 1651 GMT (0051 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Four French journalists held in Syria since June are free, French President's office says
  • The four men are in good health despite the tough conditions they endured in captivity, it says
  • The journalists are now in Turkey and are expected back in France in the coming hours
  • Two of them worked for Europe 1; its CEO spoke of his "immense joy" at the release of all four

(CNN) -- Four French journalists who had been held hostage in Syria for 10 months have been released, the French President's office said Saturday.

Edouard Elias, Didier François, Nicolas Henin and Pierre Torres are in good health despite the tough conditions they endured during their captivity, the Elysee Palace said in a statement.

Turkish broadcaster DHA aired video of the released journalists after they arrived in Turkey. They are expected to return to France in the coming hours, the Elysee Palace said.

French President Francois Hollande learned of the journalists' release with "great relief," the statement said.

The four men had been held since June last year.

Two of them, Francois, a reporter, and Elias, a photographer, were on assignment in Syria for French radio station Europe 1.

The pair went missing on June 6 while en route to Aleppo, having crossed the border from Turkey, the station said at the time.

Reporter Henin and photographer Torres were taken hostage a short time later, on June 22, the French Foreign Ministry said last October. Henin was working on assignment for Le Point magazine and the TV channel Arte, while Torres was there to cover municipal elections, the ministry said.

Denis Olivennes, chief executive of Europe 1, tweeted Saturday of his "immense joy" at the release of all four journalists and thanked all those who had brought about their release from captivity.

Syria remained the most deadly place for journalists on the job in 2013, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.

The conflict claimed the lives of at least 29 journalists in 2013, according to its annual report, taking the total number killed covering the war to at least 63, including some who died over the border in Lebanon or Turkey.

"The huge number of deaths in Syria does not tell the complete story of the danger there, given an unprecedented number of kidnappings," the group adds. "About 60 journalists were abducted at least briefly during the year, according to CPJ research, and about 30 are currently missing."

2 Spanish journalists kidnapped in Syria arrive home

CNN's Bharati Naik contributed to this report.

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