About 20 million euros was said to have been paid to secure the release of four Frenchmen who were captivity in Niger, three years ago.
The four Frenchmen held captive by an Al-Qaeda offshoot in North Africa arrived in Paris on Wednesday, ending their three-year kidnap ordeal.
A French government plane carrying the four touched down near Paris at 1045 GMT at the Villacoublay military airport, where the ex-hostages were to be met by their families and President Francois Hollande.
“Between 20 and 25 million euros was paid to obtain the release of the French hostages,” the source close to the Nigerien negotiating team said.
The money went to the hostage-takers and to intermediaries on the ground who played a key role in securing the release, the source added.
Le Monde newspaper also cited a French source with knowledge of the operation as saying that “more than 20 million euros” was paid as a ransom.
A Malian negotiator who participated in 2011 talks to release three hostages kidnapped at the same time as the quartet freed on Tuesday said that 13.5 million euros had been paid on that occasion.
“So for me, between 20 and 25 million euros seems a good figure,” he told AFP.
The four men, who were kidnapped by Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) in northern Niger in 2010, arrived in Paris around 1045 GM