In an interview with a French newspaper, former-hostage Ingrid Betancourt justified the $6.5 million compensation request she made against the Colombian state in July for failing to prevent her kidnapping, saying that press reports at the time were “distorted.”
The former presidential candidate told Le Parisien that international media coverage turned the lawsuit into ” a caricature.”
“There was a complete distortion of the truth,” she said “My goal is to help other hostages. I never thought that they would call me ungrateful.”
The Franco-Colombian, who spent six and a half years held captive by the FARC, later withdrew her petition amidst protests that she had ignored warnings not to enter the El Caguan zone, which had recently been retaken from the FARC by government forces.
Betancourt had claimed that the Colombian state failed to provide her adequate protection to travel in the zone, stripping her of her bodyguards and refusing to allow her to fly by state helicopter into the heavily guerrilla infiltrated area where she was kidnapped.
The claim was met with public outrage due to the fact that Colombian troops risked their lives to rescue her and fourteen other hostages in the highly-celebrated liberation mission “Operation Checkmate” on July 2, 2008. Betancourt later told press the petition was “symbolic” and had been filed in order to “open the way so that other people who have been kidnapped can get compensation.”
Speaking to Le Parisien, the French national said she had no intention of keeping the money but would have invested it in her foundation, which supports victims of kidnapping and their families. “I would have used that money for specific programs, projects for hostages.” she said.
The 48 year-old has just finished writing a book entitled “Meme le silence a une fin” (“Even silence has an end”) due for release September 2.It is not a response or a reckoning.” she told the paper.