7 Freed in Chad Kidnap Case

Reporters, flight staff released after Sarko jets in to mediate
By Mary Papenfuss,  Newser User
Posted Nov 4, 2007 8:23 AM CST
Eric Breteau, head of French charity Zoe's Ark, smokes a cigarette by a window at court.   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – Three French journalists and four Spanish flight attendants have been released in a bizarre alleged kidnapping case in Chad shortly after French President Nicolas Sarkozy arrived to mediate. Still detained are members of French charity organization Zoe's Ark that attempted to airlift to France 103 African children they claimed were orphans. "It's over; they're free," said an attorney for the seven released.

Chadian officials arrested 21 people last week as they were about to board a Spanish plane with the children they planned to place in French homes. Authorities said the children were not orphans and that parents had been tricked into releasing them. Sarkozy said he hoped "to find agreement so that no one loses face." The freed Europeans greeted Sarkozy at the airport after his hour-long talk with Chadian President Idriss Deby.