PARIS (Reuters) – French aid worker Sophie Petronin, freed a year ago after four years in the hands of jihadist militants in northern Mali and now back in Mali should stay there, Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said on Sunday.
“One cannot for several months, even years, mobilise the secret services, including the military, to rescue this woman from her hostage situation, bring her back and have her return to Mali,” an outraged Le Drian told LCI television.
“If she feels at ease there, let her stay there” he added.
The 76-year old Petronin – who ran a charity for malnourished and orphaned children when she was kidnapped near the desert city of Gao in late 2016 – discreetly returned to Mali in April, sparking criticism from the French government.
Petronin has rejected the criticism, affirming being “at home” in Mali.
(Reporting by Dominique Vidalon; Editing by Kirsten Donovan)