French reporter back home after FARC captivity
PARIS (Reuters) - The French reporter held hostage by Colombia's FARC rebels said he could not complain of his treatment during the month-long jungle captivity, as he returned to France on Friday where he was to be welcomed by President Francois Hollande.
Romeo Langlois, 35, was released on Wednesday by his captors, who had taken him hostage in late April after they attacked the military unit he was reporting alongside.
On Friday, the freelance journalist working for France 24 television stepped off a plane at Paris' Charles-de-Gaulle Airport, smiling broadly with sunglasses perched on his head.
"I've said I was a VIP hostage, maybe that's a bit much, but you know, I'm not really complaining," he told a press conference upon his arrival.
"I think others around me suffered more than I did."
Langlois said his ordeal made him think of French hostage Ingrid Betancourt, who was liberated in July 2008 after six years of captivity by the FARC. He also cited two French journalists, Gilles Jacquier and Remi Ochlik, who were killed in Syria at the beginning of the year.
Langlois was set to meet Hollande at the Elysee presidential palace later on Friday.
Seven French nationals are still held hostage around the world, six in Africa's Sahel region and one in Somalia.
The FARC, labeled a terrorist group by the European Union and the United States, began as a Marxist peasant movement but later turned to drug-smuggling and extortion to fund its insurgency. Its leadership has vowed to stop kidnapping civilians for ransom and have made repeated signs they might be ready to engage in peace talks.
The group is arguably at its weakest in almost 50 years after being debilitated by Colombia's armed forces, helped by U.S. funding.
On Wednesday, Langlois was welcomed by hundreds of villagers in Colombia's southern Caqueta region after being freed.
(Reporting by Antony Paone and John Cotton. Writing By Alexandria Sage; Editing by Alessandra Rizzo)
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