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Freed FRANCE 24 journalist Langlois arrives in Paris
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.