Colombia’s largest rebel group, the FARC, on Tuesday said they are waiting for the government to conform a commission to recover a former American Navy official who was kidnapped in the southern Colombian jungles in June.
In the rebel group’s daily press conference in Havana, Cuba, “Rodrigo Granda,” one of the rebel leaders involved in peace talks with the government, told reporters that the FARC are waiting for the commission to be conformed in order for them to release what they consider a “mercenary.”
“We are not interested in postponing the liberation, but now the Colombian government should decide when they are going to send the commission we proposed consisting of the Red Cross, the community of Saint Egidio and also [former] Senator Piedad Cordoba. We are waiting for them to hand over the marine, a marine who seems to be a north American mercenary,” said the FARC representative.
When asked why the FARC considered the American — who according to the US traveled as a tourist — a mercenary, Granda said the American was found with military equipment.
“What would you think of a man who has a hidden camera in his watch who has GPS, who has a military uniform in his bag pack, who has stuff for survival, who had been around there for a month?” Granda asked present reporters rhetorically.
“If they had caught me over there in the US, with a GPS app, near the White House, I´m sure they would have arrested me too,” said the rebel.
The FARC claimed to have captured former marine Kevin Scott Sutay on June 20, but didn’t announce his captivity until a few weeks ago. In the initial announcement, the rebels indicated they wanted to release the US citizen.
The Red Cross has since taken the lead in contacting all involved parties to carry out the operation necessary to return Sutay safely from the southern jungles.
The former American marine is the first US citizen to be held by the FARC since July 2008 when three kidnapped American military contractors were rescued from their rebel captors.
The rebel group has since banned kidnapping for economic reasons, but reserved the right to capture enemy combatants.