French journalist Olivier Dubois (center), released nearly two years after he was kidnapped by the Support Group for Islam and Muslims (GSIM) in Mali, at Niamey airport in Niger, March 20, 2023 (SOULEYMAN AG ANARA / AFP)
Olivier Dubois was released after more than 700 days in captivity. The French journalist was kidnapped on April 8, 2021 in Gao, in northern Mali, by the Support Group for Islam and Muslims (GSIM).
Marc de Bony, spokesman for the committee supporting the release of Olivier Dubois. The French journalist has been in the hands of his captors from the Support Group for Islam and Muslims (GSIM) since April 8, 2021. He has just been released after 711 days in captivity.
If the details of this release are not yet known, according to the president of the Support Committee, “things were done in secret diplomacy”. For Marc de Boni, “the important thing is that he will return very quickly” to France.
Mark de Boni: It’s unrealistic, we don’t touch the ground anymore, we’re never ready for this kind of situation, we’re never ready for it to end.
“It is a huge relief and endless pleasure to see Olivier smiling, on his way home after such a long wait.”
What do you know of this release?
I learned about it from his partner Deborah. At this point, nothing official is known. Things were done in secret diplomacy. There is no longer an official French ambassador. Things must have been played out under the cloak, under the table as they say. Obviously, the Nigerien authorities played a role. It had been on the table since last October. It would seem, according to Olivier’s first words, that they could have played a role. But the important thing is that he will come back to us very quickly!
We had seen in recent weeks, a journalist, Wassil Nasr, who reported a message from one of the leaders of the group that held Olivier. This message said “the ball is in France’s court”. The group was therefore open to a dialogue and it was a sign of openness on the part of the kidnappers. It’s a happy ending.
Did you go through all the emotions during these 711 days of captivity?
We were with unwavering determination. We have to go on autopilot. Today, I am upset, I find it hard to realize that it is over. I was tense with my whole person for two years so that we would not forget Olivier. The times have changed.
“A few years ago when journalists were kidnapped, there were calls to the news every day. There, it was a freelancer, we had trouble mobilizing with Olivier. But I want to salute the mobilization in the West Indies. In recent months, many citizens and elected officials have taken up the subject.
But the important thing is that he will come back to us very quickly. We know that he had access to the media. He was with another hostage at one point. We could see that he was treated with humanity. Now I long to see him to take him in my arms.