U.S. Hostage Freed by Colombia’s FARC Rebels (Video)
Kevin Scott Sutay, a veteran of the USA war in Afghanistan who wandered in to territory of the Colombian rebels while backpacking in the region, was taken hostage by the rebel group FARC four months ago. He was quietly turned over to Cuban and Norwegian International Red Cross officials yesterday.
The U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s office issued a statement, saying: “We are pleased about the liberation today of U.S. citizen Kevin Scott Sutay who was in the hands of the FARC.” The statement included gratitude to the Colombian government and President Juan Manuel Santos for their efforts.
The former soldier (26) was said to be in good health. International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) spokeswoman Patricia Rey who is also an official of the U.S. embassy in Bogota said the ICRC was working to send Sutay home but could not confirm when he would leave.
The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, has been engaged in peace negotiations with the Colombian government for the past year in Cuba that began 11 months ago, to end the half-century internal conflict. The group had said it was abandoning kidnapping as a condition for the launching of the peace talks. Cuba and Norway are serving as facilitators and sponsors in those talks.
Progress in the talks has been slow with just partial agreement on one of the five points on the agenda as reported by the Progressive Press in May, 2013.
The FARC and the ELN, FARC’s smaller counterpart, have been fighting the Colombian government in a bloody five-decade conflict that has killed more than 200,000 people. Both groups are listed as terrorist organizations by the United States and the European Union.
According to government data, the FARC is believed to have around 8,000 fighters and the ELN around 3,000. Their numbers were reduced almost in half by a decade-long military offensive with the support of the U.S. government.
The Associated Press reports that its attempts to locate relatives of Sutay after his capture were unsuccessful. His service record lists his hometown as Willow Spring, North Carolina.
Photo credit: www.arcoiris.com.co
Video credit: VideoMedia