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France announces release of French official held by Niger security forces

France’s Foreign ministry on Thursday announced the release of Stephane Jullien, a French official who had been held by security forces in Niger.

The man, an adviser to French nationals in Niger, had been arrested by Niger security forces on September 8, according to the foreign ministry in Paris.

The ministry had called for his immediate release on Tuesday but did not provide details on his arrest.

Jullien is an elected official who represents French expatriates and works closely with the country’s embassies and consulates.

According to the foreign ministry website, there are 442 such advisers worldwide. Their role is to help French expats with issues relating to work, schools, social security and other issues. They are elected for six-year terms.

Niger’s ruling junta last month ordered police to expel France’s ambassador, in a move marking a further downturn in relations between France and its former colony.

Paris had said that the army officers who seized power in Niamey in late July had no authority to expel the French ambassador.

Following the coup, France said it would end military cooperation and cut all development aid to the country. But Paris had so far rejected calls by the putsch leaders to withdraw the 1,500 French troops currently in Niger, saying it still regards democratically elected President Mohamed Bazoum, currently held prisoner, as the country’s legitimate leader.

This post appeared first on cnn.com

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