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Farc guerrilla looked to France for Betancourt deal, Wikileaks

Reuters/Carlos Duran

New diplomatic cables released by Wikileaks reveal that a Colombian guerrilla leader had looked to make a deal for a safe passage to France in return for the release of Ingrid Betancourt, the Franco-Colombian woman who was then held hostage by Farc.

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According to a cable issued by the US embassy in Colombia on 24 June 2008, Gerardo Aguilar, known as ‘Cesar’, had made the offer shortly before Betancourt and 14 others were rescued, on 2 July.

The cable cited an anonymous source saying that the church had been in contact with Aguilar, “who supposedly was looking for the Colombian government to agree to allow him and his family and any other guerrilla a safe passage to France, in return for Betancourt’s release”.

Aguilar also asked for the Colombian authorities to free his wife and daughter as part of the deal.

The deal did not go through, and Aguilar was arrested during the Colombian military rescue operation. He was extradited in 2009 to the US, where he was sentenced to 27 years in prison for drug trafficking.

France has since struck a deal with the Colombian government, offering asylum to Farc rebels who defect or free prisoners.

Another cable from Bogota on 5 June 2007 indicated that then president Alvaro Uribe, under pressure from France and Switzerland, had proposed freeing 200 Farc guerrillas for a humanitarian exchange.

The cables are among the 20,000 released recently to Latin American newspapers, as Wikileaks founder Julian Assange looks to broaden his media affiliations.

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