French President Nicolas Sarkozy used the captivity of French-Colombian politician Ingrid Betancourt for political gain and only managed to raise her value as a hostage for the FARC, then-U.S. Ambassador to Paris told then-President George W. Bush in a 2008 cable leaked by WikiLeaks.
Former Ambassador Craig Roberts Stapleton wrote in a secret cable that “Sarkozy raised the profile of the Betancourt issue during the election campaign and over the first year of his Presidency, hoping to accrue political credit for succeeding where his predecessors had failed. Instead he has only raised the Betancourt’s value to the FARC as a prisoner.”
In the cable, dated May 19, 2008, Stapleton warned Bush that France might seek support for its efforts to negotiate the release of Betancourt during the president’s visit to the country the following month.
In an earlier cable, dated October 26, 2007, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was informed that France had begun talks with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez to force the release of Betancourt and is willing to accept “a ‘bargain with the devil’ to advance prospects for the release of an iconic hostage.”
“We should ask Sarkozy not to take any steps that would result in separate treatment for Ingrid Betancourt and put U.S. hostages in harm’s way,” the ambassador told Rice.
Following years of failed efforts to negotiate Betancourt’s freedom, the Colombian army rescued her and the three American hostages in June 2008. Betancourt has been living in France ever since.