Al-Qaeda said in May 2010, it was holding 78-year-old Michel Germaneau, who was seized in northern Niger in Apr, 2010.
Germaneau is a retired engineer who had worked in the Algerian oil sector.
According to the US-based SITE Intelligence Group, "the mujahideen decided to grant a final extension to France that will not be repeated and will not exceed 15 days, starting on Monday (Jul 12, 2010), 12072010."
It demanded a prisoner exchange and said French President Nicolas Sarkozy would be responsible for Germaneau's life.
Western countries said that if action is not taken, al-Qaeda militants could turn the Sahara into a safe haven along the lines of Somalia or Yemen, and use it to launch attacks.
AQIM released a picture and audio of Germaneau in May 2010, in which he said he had a serious medical condition, and urged Sarkozy to find a "good solution" for him.