A UN official has been released by dissidents FARC rebels more than two months after being kidnapped in southern Colombia.
Harley Lopez, an official for the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, was kidnapped by dissident FARC guerrillas in May of this year in the southern Guaviare province when his group convoy was intercepted by armed members of the dissident 1st Front.
The release of Lopez was confirmed by the United Nations.
— ONU Colombia (@onucolombia) July 5, 2017
We are grateful for the work that the national authorities, the community leaders’ commission and the involved organizations led jointly with the United Nations to secure his release.
His release was announced by Colombia’s Ministry of Defense who stated on Twitter that the “UN official kidnapped by residual organized crime in Guaviare has informed his superiors that he has been released.”
Contratista de ONU secuestrado por crimen organizado residual en Guaviare ha informado a sus superiores que fue liberado por sus captores
— Mindefensa (@mindefensa) July 5, 2017
The kidnapping occurred after Lopez attended a meeting of the National Program for the Substitution of Illicit Crops, attended by 400 farmers.
The dissident guerrillas responsible for the kidnapping reportedly said Lopez was “persuading and deceiving” the farmers who grew coca and had warned that he “could be at risk” in the area.
Both the UN and Colombia’s Post Conflict Minister, Rafael Pardo, had earlier demanded the immediate and unconditional release of the UN official whilst speaking at an event in the region.
Following the international organization, it asked Colombian press to respect the privacy of the liberated official as he recovers from his weeks-long ordeal with the dissident guerrillas.