BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) — Colombia's main rebel group says it is holding a French journalist who has been missing since disappearing a week ago while covering combat.
The ruling secretariat of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, did not say in the statement released Sunday if or when it plans to release Romeo Langlois.
In a communique published online, the FARC said that Langlois "was dressed in military clothing of the regular army" on April 28 when the FARC attacked security forces he was accompanying on a mission to destroy a cocaine lab.
Accompanying the military on such missions serves the government's propaganda purposes, said the statement, which was dated May 3.
"We think the minimum that can be expected for the recuperation of (Langlois') full mobility is the opening of a national and international debate over the freedom to inform," it continued. "Journalists that Colombia's armed forces take with it on military operations don't adhere to the impartial purpose of informing about reality."
Colombia's defense minister has said that Langlois removed the helmet and flak jacket that the army had provided and identified himself as a civilian during the clash.
The FARC statement, published by the sympathetic Sweden-based ANNCOL news agency, began with the FARC leadership announcing "the detention in the quality of prisoner of war the French journalist Romeo Langlois by units of the FARC's 15th Front.".
It warned Colombia's military not to try to rescue Langlois, referring to previous instances when it has killed prisoners during perceived government rescue attempts.
Earlier on Sunday, in a video released by independent journalist Karl Penhaul, a man who identifies himself as a rebel squadron leader said Langlois was lightly wounded in an arm but was out of danger.