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France says citizen held in Niger, urges ‘immediate release’

French troops begin withdrawal from Niger: French military
Source: Video Screenshot

Paris on Tuesday called for the immediate release of a French citizen detained in Niger, as ties deteriorate in the wake of the coup in France’s former west African colony.

Stephane Jullien, a businessman long based in the country who had a role representing the interests of French expatriates at the French embassy, was arrested on September 8, the foreign ministry said.

“France demands his immediate release,” it added, saying that the French embassy in Niamey had been working to ensure he had consular protection since the day he was arrested.

Relations between Niger and France went swiftly downhill after the July 26 putsch, which ousted French ally president Mohamed Bazoum.

Paris, which has around 1,500 troops are deployed in Niger as part of France’s wider fight against jihadists in the Sahel, has stood by Bazoum and declared the post-coup authorities as illegitimate.

There has been speculation that France will be forced into a full military pullout from Niger, with a French defence ministry source saying last week that the French army was holding talks with Niger’s military over withdrawing “elements” of its presence.

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Agence France-Presse (AFP) is a French international news agency headquartered in Paris, France. Founded in 1835 as Havas, it is the world's oldest news agency.

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