(Above: Romeo Langlois' report titled 'Can Colombia's FARC rebels keep fighting?' Video courtesy: France 24)
The French ambassador to Colombia called on May 9 for France 24 reporter Romeo Langlois to be freed quickly by the leftist rebels who kidnapped him late last month during a jungle gunbattle.
"I hope Romeo Langlois will quickly regain his freedom, safe and sound," Ambassador Pierre Jean Vandoorne told the Caracol radio station, asking people to think of his parents and their difficult ordeal.
Langlois, 35, was accompanying soldiers who destroyed five cocaine production labs in southern Colombia when a firefight broke out and he was captured by rebels from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).
Vandoorne hailed Langlois, who is believed to have suffered a bullet wound to his left arm in clashes that killed four military officers, as "a great reporter who was following his calling."
The journalist was wearing a Colombian army helmet and bullet-proof vest, which he shed before surrendering to the guerrillas, declaring he was a civilian, according to the authorities.
The rebels had called Langlois a "prisoner of war" because he had been wearing the military helmet and flak jacket when he went missing on April 28.
In a message released to media organisations on May 7, the FARC said they wanted a debate on press freedom as a condition of Langlois's release.
"We think the minimum we would need for him to fully regain his freedom of movement would be the opening of a large national and international debate on freedom of information," the guerrillas said.
Defense Minister Juan Carlos Pinzon chastised the rebels for taking part in a "media exercise" at the reporter's expense. "If they are holding him, they should free him immediately, without delay or doubt," he said.
Founded in 1964, the FARC is Colombia's oldest and largest guerrilla group with an estimated 9,000 fighters.