FARC rebels in Colombia released French journalist Romeo Langlois to negotiators on Wednesday, after a month-long international effort to free the kidnapped reporter.
“I have never been tied up. I was treated like a guest,” Langlois said upon liberation. “Hopefully the army will continue to take journalists to conflict areas.”
Rebel forces chose a secret location in Colombia’s southern Caqueta department, reportedly the town of San Isidro, to transfer Langlois to a convoy headed by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).
A representative of French President Francois Hollande and members of human rights group Colombians for Peace were also present for the release.
The convoy left early Wednesday morning, shortly after 4:45AM, from the Colombian town of Florencia. ICRC drivers steered for hours along narrow, muddy roads through remote, difficult terrain to reach the rendezvous spot.
Langlois is expected to travel immediately to France.
The ICRC played an integral role in securing Langlois’ release. The humanitarian group led a team of negotiators, which included former Colombian senator and hostage negotiator Piedad Cordoba, as well as French government officials.
The FARC announced Sunday that it would release Langlois on May 30. As part of the agreement, the Colombian Ministry of Defense agreed to a series of security concessions, including a one-day halt of Colombian military activity in 20 square kilometer area around the meeting point.
The Colombian and French governments repeatedly called for Langlois’ release during the month he spent in the hands of Colombia’s largest rebel group.
The FARC captured Langlois on April 28 during a clash with Colombian security troops, with whom Langlois was embedded, and held him despite previous promises to end kidnapping.
The guerrilla group claimed the reporter was a “prisoner of war.”
Langlois had been accompanying government forces while investigating anti-narcotics operations in the southern Caqueta department. He was injured in the fighting, but a proof of life video released Monday appeared to show him in fair health.
Local media reported that Langlois will likely hold a press conference tomorrow.
The kidnapping has raised concerns about the practice of embedded journalism in Colombia.