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Freed FRANCE 24 journalist Langlois arrives in Paris

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2012-06-02

FRANCE 24 journalist Roméo Langlois returned to France on Friday morning, two days after FARC rebels in Colombia freed him from more than a month in captivity. Langlois was greeted in Paris by France’s culture and development ministers.

Roméo Langlois, the French journalist who was freed on Wednesday by leftist rebels after more than a month of captivity in Colombia, arrived in France on Friday morning. Langlois, a FRANCE 24 correspondent, returned to Paris on an Air France flight and was greeted at Charles de Gaulle airport by his parents and two French ministers.

Minister of Culture Aurélie Filippetti and Development Minister Pascal Canfin, who is in charge of international cooperation, welcomed Langlois home.

The recently appointed culture minister paid homage to Langlois for “having paid with his detention the price… for the freedom of information.” Speaking to reporters at Charles de Gaulle, Filippetti also evoked Gilles Jacquier and Rémi Ochlik, two French journalists who died in Syria last February.

Romeo Langlois on captivity: "I've known much worse"

Langlois then spoke to reporters and friends gathered at the airport just north of Paris. He thanked many people who had worked toward his release, in particular fellow journalist Pascale Mariani, who according to Langlois, “tracked his whereabouts for days.”

“I had to be captured to realize that there are many people who love me. All these people suffered more than I did,” he said ironically in a speech punctuated with humour.

 The 35-year-old journalist also spoke about the conditions of his detention. He said FARC rebels told him immediately that he would be eventually be freed. “I wasn’t too worried,” Langlois confessed, adding however that he “expected to be released sooner”.
Langlois was captured on April 28 by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) in the southern Caqueta region while reporting on anti-drug operations alongside the Colombian army.
On Wednesday, the rebels handed him over to a team from the International Committee of the Red Cross.
Continue working in Colombia
Questioned by reporters, Langlois confirmed that he had a letter by the FARC rebels addressed to French President François Hollande. “I have read the letter, because part of it concerns me directly,” he said. “But I am not going to go into details. In general, FARC are asking France to continue to be a friend to Colombia in order to find a peaceful solution to the conflict.”

Founded in 1964, FARC is Latin America's largest and oldest guerrilla movement. The Marxist-inspired group, which is largely funded by drugs, has waged war against the Colombian government for nearly 50 years.

However, in recent months FARC rebels have made small conciliatory gestures after a US-backed Colombian offensive dealt the movement a significant blow.
Langlois also said he had no doubts that he would continue to work as a journalist in Colombia, a country he has lived and worked in for the past ten years.

In his first comments after his release on Wednesday, the French reporter criticized FARC for creating a "media circus" around his capture and accused them of engaging in a "political game", while specifying that he had not been mistreated.

From his first days in captivity, Langlois negotiated for the use of a video camera. His demand was fulfilled after three weeks. The journalist said he was able to get an interview with one of the guerrilla leaders of the Front 15, a regional FARC unit, in which the issues of kidnappings and the cultivation of coca were discussed.
Langlois, who appeared with a camcorder in hand in video footage of his release, said that while the recorded material would be part of a new video report, he planned on living in France in the coming months.

“There are not many journalists covering the conflict in Colombia, in the jungle, in the complicated areas where there are clashes. The Colombian media are limited in how much they can say—there is plenty of self-censorship. So international and independent media have a role to play,” Langlois concluded.


Date created : 2012-06-01


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