US envoy says France ransoms fed Africa's al-Qaida

The former American ambassador to Mali says France paid $17 million in ransoms to free French hostages and that the money ended up in the hands of the same al-Qaeda militants the country is fighting now.


In an interview that aired Friday on iTele, Vicki Huddleston said the money allowed al-Qaeda's North Africa branch to flourish in Mali. Claude Gueant, who was French President Nicolas Sarkozy's chief of staff at the time, on Friday denied that France had ever paid a ransom and said intermediaries had been negotiating to free the hostages. (AP)