France says citizen detained in Niger in wake of coup has been freed

A French citizen detained in Niger in the wake of a coup has been freed, the French foreign ministry announced on Thursday.  

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“France welcomes the liberation of Stephane Jullien,” said a spokeswoman for the ministry.

Jullien, a businessman long based in Niger, had a role representing the interests of French expatriates at the French embassy.

He was arrested on September 8 amid deteriorating ties that followed a coup in the former French colony in West Africa.

France had announced his detention on Tuesday and called for his “immediate release”.

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

Paris, which has about 1,500 troops 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 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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