September 24th, 2010
10:58 AM ET

Official: Kidnapped journalists 'holding up'

French TV journalist Elise Lucet gathers support in Paris earlier this month for the two kidnapped journalists

Two French journalists seized by Taliban militants in Afghanistan late last year appeared to be "holding up" when they were contacted by phone, a French official said Friday.

"We were able to speak with them over the phone," Edouard Guillaud, head of the French military, told French radio station Europe 1.

"We also have proof that they are alive and that they are bravely withstanding the shock."

The official told the radio station that the journalists' "morale is good."

Guillaud said there were "reasonable hopes" they would be released by Christmas time.

Taliban militants captured the journalists in December and threatened to kill them if their demands are not met, including the release of some detainees held by France.

The journalists were identified as Herve Ghesquiere and Stephane Taponnier from France 3 Television.

In a written statement, the Taliban has said it has submitted a list of their "most ordinary detainees to the government of France for release as an exchange for the two Frenchmen and their Algerian colleague."

It added, "There is no other option for the release of the said detainees except the option of detainees exchange."

The statement said the detainees are miserable and facing torture and brutalities.

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