France paid millions of dollars for the release of three journalists kidnapped in Iraq and its foreign intelligence service now knows the identity of the abductors, a reporter who was himself held hostage in Lebanon in 1987 said on Monday in a magazine interview. Roger Auque told the August-September issue of Afrique Magazine that - despite official denials - the French government had paid $6m to free Liberation newspaper correspondent Florence Aubenas and her Iraqi interpreter in June. Two other French journalists who had been released last December, Christian Chesnot and Georges Malbrunot, were handed over in exchange for $2m, Auque said, relying on what he described as "a reliable source" for his information. Officers in DGSE foreign intelligence service "have identified the abductors and the place they had been held", said the journalist, who has written a book about his own captivity at the hands of Hezbollah. "In the basement of the DGSE in Paris the cellphone numbers of the abductors and their photos are stuck on a wall next to a map of Iraq," he said. "Kidnappers never say at the start that they want money. They prefer to depict themselves as a political or religious movement. "Then they make it understood that all that costs a lot of money and that financial help would be welcome. "A figure is then suggested," he told the magazine.