Correspondent / behind the news

Eye witness

Entries feed - Comments feed

Letters from a mass murderer

Wednesday 10 September 2014 Eye witness

This picture taken on September 5, 2014 shows the signature under a letter by Norwegian right-wing extremist Anders Behring Breivik addressed to AFP journalist Pierre-Henry Deshayes at the AFP office in Oslo (AFP Photo / Pierre-Henry Deshayes)

"Over the course of one year, I have received three letters from Anders Behring Breivik", writes AFP's correspondent in Oslo Pierre Henry-Deshayes. "A quick glance at the envelope is enough to identify the sender. The neat, clean handwriting in block letters is impossible to mistake for anyone else’s. It makes my blood freeze."

Then comes a fundamental question: Should AFP disseminate the contents or not? Obviously, in this type of situation journalists run the risk of being used and abused. On the other hand, people want to know how peaceful Norway could give rise to such a monster. They want to know what that monster is made of.

(AFP Photo / Pierre-Henry Deshayes)

Continue reading...

In bed with Ebola

Wednesday 3 September 2014 Eye witness

An MSF medical worker checks their protective clothing in a mirror at an MSF facility in Kailahun, on August 15, 2014 (AFP Photo / Carl de Souza)

"At 4:00am in an Ebola hot zone -- when you feel flushed, a little run-down and itchy from the prickly rash developing on your ankle -- paranoia can creep in. Did that kid touch me on the arm? Did that old guy who was spitting everywhere look sick? Did I touch my face before washing my hands after that interview? Is this a headache coming on? Is this a fever?"

Dakar-based reporter Frankie Taggart reports from Kailahun, in Eastern Sierra Leone, one of the worst-hit zones in an epidemic which has killed more than 1,500 people across west Africa.

(AFP Photo / Carl de Souza)

Continue reading...

How to survive a media scrum

Wednesday 16 July 2014 Eye witness


What happens when too many journalists are trying to nab the same information at the same time? AFP's Roland de Courson gives an insight into the media scrum.

(AFP Photo/Joe Klamar)

Continue reading...

Reporter short-circuits after interviewing robot

Wednesday 16 July 2014 Eye witness


AFP Tokyo reporter Alastair Himmer tried to interview a robot. The robot apparently had other plans.

Continue reading...

Suarez, Uruguay's raging hero

Thursday 10 July 2014 Eye witness


"As a Uruguayan, it was deeply painful to see our team lose its talisman, the explosive striker who had battled back from knee surgery to restore a glimmer of our little country's faded football glory," writes AFP's chief editor for Latin America, Maria Lorente.

Continue reading...

China grapples with the 'devils' of its past

Wednesday 9 July 2014 Eye witness

Chinese civilians take part in an event marking the start of the war with Japan. Beijing, July 7, 2014. (AFP Photo/Wang Zhao)

As China marks 77 years since the official start of the war with Japan, AFP Beijing correspondent Tom Hancock watches a Chinese dance troupe reenact past strife, highlighting China's sometimes-schizophrenic attitudes to its former adversary.

Continue reading...

Saying goodbye to a changing Russia

Monday 7 July 2014 Eye witness

A Russian Trans-Siberian train on the remote BAM railway line in northeastern Siberia. (Stuart Williams photo)

"It's true that Russia can be a tough and frankly life-sapping place to live. The seemingly endless winter that begins in the sheer misery of the soggy November darkness; the sometimes inexplicably abrupt behaviour of people in public life; the traffic jams that turn any outing into an operation requiring military planning.

"But I realised I could not imagine anywhere more enthralling on earth."

Former Moscow correspondent Stuart Williams bids farewell to Russia after spending more than five years in the country.

Continue reading...

Prepping for the apocalypse

Thursday 3 July 2014 Eye witness

This photo taken on December 11, 2012 shows farmer Liu Qiyuan looking out from a survival pod that he built and also dubbed 'Noah's Arc', in the village of Qiantun, Hebei province, south of Beijing.

As the countdown to apocalypse elapses, one entrepreneur in China is busy building spherical survival pods suitable for just about any impending disaster. Named in honor of the Biblical Noah, his wooden 'arks' may or may not stay afloat in stormy seas, but they can withstand the shock of head on collision with a truck. Beijing-based AFP correspondent Tom Hancock was on hand for a test drive. (AFP Photo/Ed Jones)

Continue reading...

Beers and leers: Sexism at the World Cup

Wednesday 2 July 2014 Eye witness

British tourists watch the Spain-Holland game in a bar in Manaus. (AFP Photo/Raphael Alves)

AFP video journalist Celeste Jones found herself in a jam-packed bar in Manaus, in the heart of the Brazilian rainforest, to film English football fans the night before England’s World Cup match against Italy, on June 13. She experienced soccer sexism first-hand.

(AFP Photo/Raphael Alves)

Continue reading...

Secret diplomacy in the Twitter age

Wednesday 25 June 2014 Eye witness

US Secretary of State John Kerry greets US marines as he arrives at the US embassy in the International Zone June 23, 2014 in the Iraqi capital Baghdad. (AFP Photo/POOL/Brendan Smialowski)

(AFP Photo/Pool/Brendan Smialowski)

"So," my neighbor asked casually on as we chatted on her lawn, "are you going with Kerry to Iraq?" My jaw dropped. This was after all three days before we were due to arrive and the visit was supposedly hush-hush. The bosses, and my husband, were the only people in my circle I'd told.

But in the days of Twitter, 24-hour news and social networking, Secretary of State John Kerry's trip to Baghdad on Monday was possibly one of the worst kept secrets in diplomatic history, writes AFP's State Department correspondent, Jo Biddle.

Continue reading...

Spain's crisis: Noisy helicopters, silent airports

Tuesday 24 June 2014 Eye witness

A waiter in Madrid bars police from his restaurant after "indignados" demonstrators sought refuge there. (AFP Photo/Pierre-Philippe Marcou)

AFP Madrid correspondent Katell Abiven has been covering Spain for the past four years, coinciding with an unprecedented slide of the Spanish economy from boom into deep crisis. As she prepares to join AFP’s Latin America team in the Montevideo regional hub, Katell looks back at the Spanish economic collapse.

(AFP Photo/Pierre-Philippe Marcou)

Continue reading...

A game changer in Iraq

Friday 20 June 2014 Eye witness

A displaced Iraqi woman shouts as she waits to register at a temporary camp set up to shelter people fleeing violence in northern Iraq on June 17, 2014 in Aski kalak, 40 kms west of the Kurdish autonomous region's capital Arbil. (AFP Photo/Karim Sahib)

"In a way, I feel almost like a sportswriter. Having covered Iraq for more than five years, I was wrapping up my story -- mentally, emotionally, socially," writes AFP's Baghdad bureau chief Prashant Rao. "I was due to leave for good in a matter of weeks, and so my match was in its metaphorical 85th minute, my story nearly written.

"Now? It feels like the losing side has suddenly scored three goals and I have no idea what just happened."

(AFP Photo/Karim Sahib)

Continue reading...

What to do with horrific images from Iraq

Wednesday 18 June 2014 Eye witness

An image uploaded June 14 on the jihadist website Welayat Salahuddin allegedly shows ISIL militants executing dozens of captured Iraqi security forces members at an unknown location in Iraq's Salaheddin province. (AFP / HO / Welayat Salahuddin)

Deeply disturbing images show Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) militants executing soldiers or security force members somewhere in Iraq’s Salaheddin province. They were first uploaded on June 14 and soon appeared on various websites and jihadist Twitter accounts, and they have now been published by AFP and other news agencies.

"Pictures like these clearly amount to extremist propaganda, so should they have been published? For AFP, the answer is yes -- but not without first taking careful precautions to ensure they were not faked," writes AFP blogs editor Roland de Courson. "We also avoided publishing those photos depicting gratuitous violence for its own sake."

Continue reading...

In Sudan war zone: Here today, gone tomorrow

Tuesday 17 June 2014 Eye witness

Sudanese Armed Forces and troops from Rapid Support Forces celebrate after recapturing the Daldako area, about 20 kms (12 miles) northeast of South Kordofan's state capital Kadugli, on May 20, 2014. (AFP Photo)

The urgent call from Sudan’s National Intelligence and Security Service came out of the blue at around 10:00 am. Be at the airport in 30 minutes, a security agent told me," writes AFP Khartoum correspondent Abdelmoneim Abu Idris Ali.

All I knew was that NISS wanted to bring journalists to South Kordofan state, where government forces and rebels have been fighting for three years, and where access is normally tightly controlled.

Continue reading...

Foreign reporters not welcome

Wednesday 21 May 2014 Eye witness


AFP journalist Ambre Tosunoglu is a French woman of Turkish descent. Despite her ties to the country -- and the fact that Turkish was her first language -- she said things have gotten more difficult for reporters working for foreign outlets in Turkey.

Continue reading...

Covering conflict for the first time

Monday 19 May 2014 Eye witness

A pro-Russia rebel poses at a checkpoint in Slavyansk, May 10, 2014. (AFP Photo/Vasily Maximov)

"Before leaving for three weeks to cover the tensions in eastern Ukraine between the army and pro-Russian rebels, I had never covered conflict," writes AFP video reporter Agnes Bun. "Like everyone, I’ve seen films and read books on the subject. And before I left, I’d gotten advice from more-experienced friends and colleagues who’d been in war zones. In February, AFP sent me on a special training for journalists going to hostile environments."

"But what no one had prepared me for were the moments of grace that prevailed between episodes of violence."

Continue reading...

Camille Lepage: A brilliant career cut short

Wednesday 14 May 2014 Eye witness

Camille Lepage on assignment in Damara, 70 km north of Bangui, February 21, 2014. (AFP Photo/Fred Dufour)

Camille Lepage, the young French journalist slain in the Central African Republic, died in a shoot-out between rival militia. AFP photographer Fred Dufour, who worked with Camille, pays homage to a fallen colleague.

Continue reading...

Central Africa's lost hope

Monday 12 May 2014 Eye witness

Inside the UN orphange at Bangui. (AFP Photo/Miguel Medina)

"It's early January, and ethnic cleansing is raging in Bangui. Each day lifeless bodies pile up on the pavements. Each day, shots ring out left and right. But today is special, because I am called upon to do a small favour to a young Frenchwoman who is waiting to adopt a child," writes AFP journalist Xavier Bourgois, who visited an orphanage in the Central African Republic. In the months after Bougois met her, the young adoption candidate disappeared.

Continue reading...

Uruguay’s farmer president

Sunday 11 May 2014 Eye witness

Uruguayan President José Mujica during a visit to Chile, March 10, 2014. (AFP Photo/Claudio Reyes)

AFP Montevideo correspondent Ana Ines Cibils covers a president unlike any other. Uruguay's leader shuns the typical trappings of power and has opted to live on his farm with his three-legged dog. His landmark legislation has seen cannabis legalized in the South American country.

Continue reading...

Win Tin: From AFP editor to Myanmar political dissident

Tuesday 22 April 2014 Eye witness

The dissident and former journalist Win Tin in his Yangon home, June 2013. (AFP Photo / Ye Aung Thu)

Win Tin, 84, was the country’s longest serving political prisoner and, with Aung San Suu Kyi, co-founded the National League for Democracy. He started his career in the early 1950s as a night editor for AFP in Yangon, before entering into politics after the 1962 coup. AFP's Myanmar correspondent Hla Hla Htay and the former Yangon bureau chief Didier Lauras recently met with Win Tin in his home. (AFP Photo/Ye Aung Thu)

Continue reading...

- page 1 of 9