Moscow, 12 June 2000 (RFE/RL) - French officials are expressing their gratitude to Russia for freeing a French journalist from captivity in Chechnya who has been held since last October. France's Foreign Ministry released a statement thanking Russia for liberating Brice Fleutiaux, who was taken captive last October 1, and held for a $500,000 ransom. French Foreign Minister Hubert Vedrine confirmed Fleutiaux is free and Prime Minister Lionel Jospin said he was overjoyed at the news. The press service of Russia's Interior Ministry revealed few details of the release except that Fleutiaux was freed without any conditions or any ransom payment from a territory under the control of rebels. The ministry called Fleutiaux's attempt to enter Chechnya without a Russian visa irresponsible and said people have put their lives at risk to rescue him.