Colombia’s FARC rebels on Wednesday freed FRANCE 24 journalist Roméo Langlois, who had been held captive by the guerrilla group for more than a month.
Langlois was handed over to a delegation made up of members of the International Committee of the Red Cross, former Colombian senator Piedad Cordoba and French envoy Jean-Baptiste Chauvin.
His release came just two days after video footage of the 35-year-old French journalist was broadcast on the Latin American cable television network Telesur.
In the video, Langlois appeared to be in good health despite a large bandage wrapped around his left arm, presumably to protect an injury sustained during his capture.
“I am a civilian, a French international journalist”, the shirtless reporter said, grinning. Langlois said he understood the dangers he faced as a journalist, before adding, “But the truth is, I didn’t think it was going to get so terrible”.
FARC announces Langlois’ release
A seasoned reporter with extensive experience of Latin America, Langlois was embedded in a unit of Colombian troops carrying out a counter-drug operation in southern Colombia’s Caqueta region when they came under attack by heavily armed FARC guerrillas on April 28.
Wounded in the arm during the ensuing clashes, Langlois was taken captive by the rebel group, who initially declared him a “prisoner of war”.
FARC first announced its intention to free Langlois, who also works for the French daily newspaper Le Figaro, in mid-May, before reiterating its plans in a statement issued on May 27, saying it would only do so if the Colombian army agreed to halt all operations during the reporter’s release.
Meanwhile, Langlois’ case had made its way into France’s presidential campaign, with both the incumbent president, Nicolas Sarkozy, and his Socialist rival, François Hollande, calling for the journalist’s immediate release.
“Regarding Roméo Langlois, if we are elected, then we have to ensure his release”, Hollande told FRANCE 24 and RFI in a May 4 interview.