In a televised message to rebel leader Manuel Marulanda, Sarkozy said that the latest information about the health of Betancourt, held more than six years, is “profoundly alarming.””Ingrid is in danger of imminent death,” Sarkozy said. “Only a decision from you to save this woman from death is needed … Take this decision. Free Ingrid Betancourt,” Sarkozy told the chief of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC.Betancourt, who holds both French and Colombian nationality, has been held in a jungle for more than six years and is reportedly suffering from hepatitis B and a skin disease.Prime Minister Francois Fillon reiterated last week that France was prepared to take in FARC rebels freed from prison in exchange for Betancourt. The deal was first put forth in December. France has a medically equipped aircraft standing ready to fly to Betancourt’s rescue, the president’s office said over the weekend.In the highly personal message, Sarkozy said that Marulanda “has a rendezvous with history” and there will be a crime on his hands if she dies.Sarkozy said that freeing Betancourt would “open perspectives for peace” while failing to do so would be a “grave political fault on top of a humanitarian tragedy.”Sarkozy met earlier Tuesday with the head of a support committee to free Betancourt. Arnaud Mangiapan said he has “relatively reliable” information that she is on a hunger strike, begun Feb. 23.Sarkozy made no reference to this claim, and there was no way to verify it.
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