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2012-05-08

Rebels holding French journalist call for press ‘debate’

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BOGOTÁ, Colombia — The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) said it wants a “debate” on the way the press covers Colombia’s insurgency, Latin America’s oldest, before they will free Roméo Langlois, a French journalist captured last month.

“We think the minimum we would need for him to fully regain his freedom of movement would be the opening of a large national and international debate on freedom of information,” the FARC said in a statement released to several media organizations on May 7.

Langlois, a reporter for global television network France 24, had been accompanying soldiers who destroyed five cocaine production labs in southern Colombia when a firefight broke out. He is believed to have suffered a bullet wound to his left arm.

Dated May 3, the FARC statement was the first by the FARC leadership since the French journalist went missing and was tougher than expected.

It referred to Langlois as a “prisoner of war,” and suggested he had crossed a line by embedding with the Colombian military.

“Journalists whom the Colombian armed forces take with them on their military operations do not serve the purpose of impartially reporting on reality, but rather manipulate it in the service of the war project against the Colombian people,” the statement said.

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos has urged FARC to release the journalist “as soon as possible,” saying the Colombian government was prepared to help facilitate his liberation.

[AFP, 07/05/2012; Rcnradio.com (Colombia), 07/05/2012]

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