Wednesday, July 16, 2008

"Ransom Payment" for Colombian Hostages Proven False

Freeing the Colombian FARC hostages: The originator of the "Ransom Payment" rumor has been traced to a Swiss mediator and shown to be false.

The German newspaper Die Weltwoche has the story:

The Swiss mediator Jean-Pierre Gontard played a role in the hostage rescue in Colombia, albeit unknowingly and involuntarily. The false report concerning a supposed ransom payment originated from his milieu. With it, Swiss diplomacy has lost its last trace of credibility.
Hat tip: French Blog 5 Years Later

The German news article gives a lot of details about the extensive preparations for the Colombian military raid that freed Ingrid Betancourt and other hostages from the FARC communists. Apparently, the ransom rumor was picked up from a single source, not verified, and was rapidly dessiminated throughout European media.
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The article describes preparations for the raid as follows:

For months, Colombian elite troops had planned the operation and rehearsed it again and again down the last detail. Psychologists, martial arts and meditation trainers, and even an acting coach prepared them for their roles. Television images of an analogous hostage release that took place last January under the patronage of the Venezuelan caudillo Hugo Ch├ívez served as model. Even the red and white Russian-built Mi-17, with place for two dozen passengers, corresponded exactly to the scenario of the January operation. Only the Red Cross insignias were missing.The aircraft had barely taken off when the members of the “humanitarian” delegation overpowered the two FARC commanders. As Ingrid Betancourt later reported, the hostages were so overjoyed by the unexpected turn of events that the helicopter starting rocking from their jubilant celebration. Colombia had awakened from a nightmare.

Saber Point reported the emergence of this rumor before it was widely known.

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