Released French journalist Romeo Langlois revealed that he “was treated well” during his 33 days in FARC captivity, in a press conference Thursday.
“I always knew I would be released quickly,” the France 24 reporter said in a press conference from Bogota. “I have been treated very well and received apologies from the guerrillas for having declared me a prisoner of war. That was very important to me.”
Colombia’s largest rebel group declared Langlois a prisoner of war shortly after his April 28 capture because he was allegedly wearing a military uniform when the army unit he was embedded with came under FARC fire, wounding him in the arm.
“It was a very light kidnapping for me,” the journalist revealed. “Many people don’t have the same luck.”
Langlois appeared to be in good health despite his injury. “[The wound] is 10 inches, maybe 12. They say that the bone was not touched and it has recovered quite well,” he said.
The FARC gave a letter to Langlois to deliver to newly-elected French President Francois Hollande, portions of which the reporter disclosed in Thursday’s press conference.
The message called for “friendly countries” to help in the negotiating process between the rebel group and Colombia’s government. “Many people believe that Colombians cannot negotiate with each other.”
Colombian Vice President Angelino Garzon asked for a copy of the letter to be provided to national authorities. “We have no idea of the [letter’s] content. I imagine that the French government, if it deems it through diplomatic channels, can provide a copy of the letter to President [Juan Manuel] Santos,” Garzon said.
A delegation consisting of French diplomat Jean-Baptiste Chauvin, former Colombian Senator Piedad Cordoba and head of the Red Cross in Colombia Jordi Raich received the reporter Wednesday in the village of San Isidro in the southern department of Caqueta, where he was filming a documentary on counter-narcotics operations for French network France 24 at the time of his capture.
Colombia’s President Juan Manuel Santos took to Twitter in his first public statement following the release, saying “We welcome the release of the French journalist who should never have been kidnapped.”
The European Union’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Catherine Ashton, echoed Santos’ statement before calling for the FARC’s “immediate and unconditional release of all hostages still being held.”
Langlois shared the stage with a local FARC commander Wednesday during an impromptu rally held in San Isidro. The guerrilla leader blamed the Colombian government for neglecting the region. An unidentified community council member called on Santos to provide water, electricity and improved roads for the village. Langlois took the opportunity to comment on Colombia’s longstanding internal conflict, which he described as “the poor killing each other.”
“It’s supremely tragic. There’s no good guys or bad guys,” he added.
Former President Alvaro Uribe on his Twitter account accused the Frenchman of harboring FARC sympathies. “Langlois: It’s one thing to be journalistically curious, but it’s another to identify with terrorists,” he wrote.
Langlois responded to Uribe’s jibes Thursday, claiming the ex-president’s comments were part of “a smear campaign done to damage my image.”
“I have no affinity with the guerrillas,” he said.
Langlois will board a plane for Paris with his two brothers, who travelled to Colombia for their reunion, following a press conference at the French Embassy in Bogota.