French journalist freed from Colombian rebel captivity
After being held in captivity for 33 days, a French journalist was finally released Wednesday from the Colombian rebel group who took him hostage during an attack in the southern province of Canqueta.
“Apart from the fact that I was held for a month, everything went very well. I cannot complain,” French correspondent Romeo Langlois told reporters with a smile as he arrived safely in the village of San Isidro. ”They treated me like a guest, they were always very respectful,” Langlois said, also noting that his captors never tied him up.
The rebel group, known as the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, agreed to release its hostage to the International Committee of the Red Cross. The FARC requested that the Army suspend its military efforts for 36 hours at the location of the designated hand-off, a request to which the Army complied.
French President Francois Hollande showed gratitude as he thanked Colombian authorities, the French ambassador to Bogota and the International Committee for the Red Cross for “the happy end.” Hollande looks forward to Langlois quick and safe return to France.
Langlois, 35, was seized during a clash between the FARC and the Colombian Army on April 28th. He admitted to being a journalist and surrendered to his captors after stripping away the bullet proof vest and helmet given to him by the Army. Langlois was traveling with the Army to document a counter-drug operation.
“The detention of the journalist was good for us,” explains Colombian official Nelson Cardenas. “Not because he was deprived of freedom, that’s bad. But because it attracted the attention of domestic and foreign journalists.”
Officials speculate that the media attention will shed light on some of Colombia’s internal struggles.