Jean Daniel, leading French journalist and humanist, dies at 99


Jean Daniel Bensaïd was born in Blida, Algeria, on July 21, 1920. His father, Jules Bensaïd, was a flour miller. As a young man, Jean moved to France, studied philosophy at the Sorbonne and enlisted in the Free French Forces during World War II. He fought in Normandy, in Paris and in Alsace.

In 1947, he founded the literary magazine Caliban, adopted the pseudonym of Jean Daniel and was editor until 1951. In 1948, with permission, he re-published essays by Sartre, Camus and other intellectuals who first appeared in the controversial Esprit magazine. Camus wrote an introduction to Mr. Daniel's first novel, "L’Erreur,quot; (1953).

Mr. Daniel married Michèle Bancilhon in 1966. In addition to his wife, he is survived by a daughter, Sara Daniel, a reporter for L’Obs.

In the late 1950s, Benjamin C. Bradlee, a future executive editor of The Washington Post who was a French correspondent for Newsweek, became acquainted with Mr. Daniel through mutual contacts in the Algerian guerrilla group FLN. It was Bradlee, an old friend of Kennedy, who suggested Daniel when the president needed a private intermediary to take his proposal to Castro in 1963.

At a meeting at the White House, Kennedy asked Mr. Daniel to express his opinion that it was possible to improve relations and that the president was willing to authorize exploratory talks. Mr. Daniel met with Castro in Havana on November 19. He said Castro listened with "devouring and passionate interest,quot; and expressed his cautious approval of such conversations.

Three days later, after learning that the president had been killed, Castro told Mr. Daniel: "They will have to find the killer quickly, but very fast, otherwise, look and see, I know them, they will try to put the blame ourselves for this. "