Ashton, Hollande welcome France 24 Colombia reporter's release
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European foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said Thursday that she hoped the release of France 24 journalist Roméo Langlois marked the “definitive end” of hostage-taking by Colombia’s left-wing Farc guerrillas. Earlier French President François Hollande expressed “great joy” at the end of the 35-year-old reporter’s 33-day captivity.
Ashton “hopes that this positive development can mark the definitive end of the practice of kidnapping pledged by the Farc" and "reiterates her call for all the hostages still held captive to be freed immediately and without conditions", a statement said.
The Farc renounced the practice of kidnappings for ransom in February but has stepped up attacks on Colombian security forces over the past year.
On his release, the guerrillas publicly apologised to Langlois for holding him as a prisoner of war, an apology he accepted while adding, “I don’t agree with the decision to keep me for 33 days”.
Hollande expressed his "great joy" and thanked Colombian authorities, the International Committee of the Red Cross and the French ambassador to Bogota, Jean-Baptiste Chauvin, whom he appointed as envoy to win Langlois’ release as one of his first acts as president.
Alain de Pouzilhac, the head of the AEF holding that groups RFI and France 24, also welcomed the release.
Langlois, who said he was treated “like a guest” in captivity, told France 24 that he will probably return to France soon but that his experience had not be decisive in the decision.
He also called for more coverage of the war between Farc and the Colombian government.
“It’s a shame that people have to be held prisoner for the world to find out what is happening in these regions, for people to talk about the Colombian conflict, which is a forgotten conflict,” he said.
Residents of the village where Langlois was handed over put up banners declaring “We need the state to be here - not with its weapons and bombs, but with its investments" and “Mothers of guerrillas and soldiers demand the end of the fratricidal war”.