The partner of slain Charlie Hebdo editor Stephane Charbonnier has spoken out about the famous cartoonist, saying he died defending freedom of expression.
Lawyer and politician Jeannette Bougrab revealed on French television she waited hours at the scene because she didn’t want to leave Charbonnier’s body.
“I learned there had been a shooting so I sent him a text, a second text, a third text, and then I phoned him, and he wasn’t answering,” Ms Bougrab said.
“When I got there, there were the cordons and we weren’t allowed to get in. I learnt there that he was dead. Some people didn’t want to tell me straight away that he was dead.”
Charbonnier, known simply as ‘Charb’, was under 24/7 police protection after being placed on Al Qaeda’s ‘most wanted’ list because of his magazine’s controversial cartoons.
Charlie Hebdo’s offices were previously firebombed in 2011, with Charb later telling French newspaper Le Monde: “I’d rather die standing up than live on my knees”.
Ms Bougrab said her partner died on Wednesday morning defending the values France had neglected.
“He died standing. He defended secularism, he defended Voltaire’s spirit. He, in fact, was really the fruit of this ideal of a republic that we’ve almost forgotten,” she said.
“He died standing up. He was executed with his comrades, as he would say. Not companions, comrades. We can be very proud of him.”
“They died defending freedom of expression, secularism, and they have died so we can stay free in this country, in France.”