PARIS – President Francois Hollande is dismissing widespread suspicion that the French government pays ransoms to extremist groups to free French hostages.
Islamic State militants have decapitated American and British hostages in recent weeks, while four French journalists held by some of the same captors were released earlier this year. A former U.S. ambassador to Mali has said the French government paid $17 million to free French hostages kidnapped in Niger in 2010 and handed to al-Qaida.
Hollande said Thursday that "France doesn't pay. France tries each time to save the hostages."
He added that other countries have exchanged prisoners with kidnappers to free French hostages, in an apparent reference to a French family held by Boko Haram in Cameroon last year.
And he noted that sometimes French hostages are killed too.