Former hostage Sophie Pétronin arrives home in France on Friday after nearly four years in captivity in Mali. FRANCE 24’s expert on jihadi terrorism, Wassim Nasr, talked to FRANCE 24 about the negotiations to free her.
Negotiations to free the hostages began in April, a little less than a month after prominent Malian politician Soumalia Cissé was kidnapped, Nasr said. Despite the military coup in Mali that took place in August, the ruling junta kept the same emissary in place and a deal was agreed upon in the beginning of August.
Pétronin “benefited from this dynamic", Nasr said, as the jihadists had been wanting to free her for some time but were unable to come to an agreement in their negotiations with France. Eventually the jihadists declined to continue talks with France.
But they were always willing to include Pétronin as part of a larger prisoner swap, Nasr said. The hostages were freed in exchange for the release of nearly 200 jihadist prisoners who had been held by Malian authorities.
Click on the player above to listen to the analysis in full.