Colombia's FARC frees kidnapped ex-U.S. marine - Red Cross

Reuters

BOGOTA (Reuters) - Colombia's FARC guerrillas have freed a former U.S. marine who was kidnapped in June while he trekked through the jungle in a known guerrilla area, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said on Sunday.

Kevin Scott Sutay, a veteran of the war in Afghanistan, had been backpacking through several Central and South American countries before he was captured by the FARC. He had ignored police warnings against hiking through a "red zone" for rebel activity.

"We confirm that Kevin Scott Sutay was handed over to a humanitarian commission made up of representatives of the governments of Colombia, Cuba and Norway and members of the ICRC," said Bogota-based ICRC spokeswoman Patricia Rey.

Rey said the release took place on Sunday in the southeastern province of Guaviare, where Sutay had been held. He has since been handed over to U.S. embassy officials at Bogota airport, she said.

An ICRC doctor had deemed Sutay to be in good health and fit to travel but Rey could not confirm whether he would travel immediately to the United States.

The FARC showed willingness to release Sutay in July but hardened its stance, accusing him of being a mercenary, soon after President Juan Manuel Santos refused to allow a high profile left-wing politician to oversee the liberation.

The FARC and their smaller counterpart, the ELN, have been fighting the government in a bloody five-decade conflict that has killed more than 200,000. Both are listed as terrorist organizations by the United States and European Union.

(Reporting by Peter Murphy, Luis Jaime Acosta and Nelson Bocanegra; Writing by Peter Murphy; Editing by Christopher Wilson and David Brunnstrom)

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