Did French spooks pose as journos?

The already very dangerous work of journalists in conflict zones has probably been made still more hazardous by two French "security agents" (spooks, for short) being kidnapped in Somalia after apparently impersonating journalists.

The accusation was made by a Somali government official, after the two French nationals were seized by militants from an Islamist faction within President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed's security forces.

The French government denied the that the two men had been passing themselves off as journalists, insisting they were openly on "official business". The Brussels-based International News Safety Institute - www.newssafety.org - condemned the "subterfuge" as putting journalists' lives at risk by compromising their neutrality.

The Institute is seeking assurances from the French government that it would forbid this practice among its agents.

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