Reporters Without Borders has obtained copies of Tweets signed by the FARC that were posted online yesterday. One said that “Roméo Langlois will soon be released safe and sound.”
“The likelihood of Langlois’ release was suggested by the promise the FARC made on 26 February to stop holding civilians hostage,” Reporters Without Borders said. “We are cautiously confident that he will be freed very soon.”
The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) confirmed in a video posted online yesterday that they are holding French journalist Roméo Langlois, who went missing on 28 April during a firefight in southern Colombia between FARC guerrillas and a military detachment carrying out an anti-drug operation that Langlois was covering.
In the video – filmed by Chilean freelance photographer Carlos Villalón and British freelance reporter Karl Penhaul – a member of the FARC’s “15th Front,” who identified himself by the nom de guerre of “Monazo,” described the firefight, referred to Langlois as a French journalist, and said he was given medical attention for a slight arm injury. Watch the video:
03.05.2012 - FARC urged to keep promise and release captive French reporter
Reporters Without Borders received direct an important information last night that Roméo Langlois, a French freelance journalist who went missing in the southern department of Caquetá on 28 April, could be held by members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), a leftist guerrilla group.
“The army has verified the claim that a female member of the FARC’s 15th Division made in phone calls to several media,” Reporters Without Borders was told by a representative of the French TV news station France 24 who has been in Caquetá since the start of the week. France 24 is one of the media for which Langlois works as a stringer. The FARC high command has not, however, confirmed the message's authencity.
The France 24 representative also told to Reporters Without Borders that Langlois sustained an injury to his left forearm during the 10-hour firefight between solders and guerrillas that preceded his disappearance.
Military operations aimed at locating him were suspended in the hope that the rebels would release him quickly.
“The FARC formally undertook on 26 February to no longer take civilians hostage,” Reporters Without Borders said. “They must now keep their word by freeing Langlois as quickly as possible. His release is also justified by his need for appropriate medical attention.”
Aged 35, Langlois has been based in Colombia since 2002 stringing for media in France (Le Figaro, Marie-Claire and VSD, as well as France 24), Switzerland (L’Hebdo and 24 heures) and Canada (Radio Canada). An experienced reporter aware of the dangers, he has established contacts with all parties to the Colombian conflicts and his work in the field has been widely recognized.
“Langlois is neither a war correspondent nor a ‘prisoner of war’,” Reporters Without Borders said. “He is just a journalist. His accompanying soldiers on an anti-drug operation is not grounds for questioning his independence, which has always been a central principle of his journalism. We again pay tribute to his courage by dedicating this World Press Freedom Day to him.”
Photos : AFP