Bin Laden links fate of French hostages to Afghan pullout

Al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden said the release of two French hostages in Afghanistan depends on a French pullout and warned Paris of a "high price" for its policies, in an audiotape broadcast on Friday.

"We repeat the same message to you: The release of your prisoners in the hands of our brothers is linked to the withdrawal of your soldiers from our country," the speaker on the tape broadcast on Al-Jazeera television warned.

Cameraman Stephane Taponier and reporter Herve Ghesquiere, who work for France 3 public television, were seized along with three Afghan colleagues in December 2009 in an area northeast of Kabul.

Bin Laden, addressing the French people, said: "The refusal of your president to withdraw from Afghanistan is the result of his obedience of America and this refusal is a green light to kill your prisoners ...

"But we will not do this at a timing that suits him," he said, adding the warning that French President Nicolas Sarkozy's stand would "cost him and you a high price on different fronts, inside and outside France."

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