PARIS - France's President Emmanuel Macron Thursday hailed the "bravery" of slain AFP video journalist Arman Soldin in a condolence letter to his colleagues after his death earlier this month in war-torn Ukraine.
Soldin, 32, died when an AFP team came under fire by Grad rockets while with Ukrainian soldiers near the eastern city of Bakhmut on May 9, more than a year after the Russian invasion.
"His passing leaves you with an immense void. It devastates us all," the president wrote in a typed-up letter handed to AFP on Thursday.
"The memory of Arman Soldin will be evoked with admiration and pride.
"His name will remain linked to the honour of your profession," he said.
"Arman Soldin only wanted to do his job but he was clearly an exceptional journalist.
"Through his strength of character, his journey and his drive, Arman Soldin embodied your editorial staff's passion -- a passion to convey the truth, tell stories and gather testimonies. It was a passion for a cause: the duty to inform.
"With bravery and at the risk of his own life, Arman Soldin committed himself to this," he added.
In a sentence scrawled in blue ink at the bottom of the letter, Macron sent his "sincere condolences" and "constant support" to AFP employees.
Born in Sarajevo, Soldin was a French national who began working for AFP as an intern in its Rome bureau in 2015 and was later hired in London.
He was part of the first AFP team to be sent to Ukraine following the start of Russia's invasion on February 24, 2022, arriving on the following day.
Soldin had been living in Ukraine since September, leading the team's video coverage and travelling regularly to the front lines in the east and south.