Colombia's FARC rebels release kidnapped ex-US Marine


A member of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) guerrillas mans a checkpoint near the town of Toribio, in the Colombian department of Cauca.


Luis Robayo

Colombia's Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) rebels freed a former US Marine after keeping him hostage for several weeks, an official for the International Committee of the Red Cross said on Sunday.

"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.

US Secretary of John Kerry applauded Sutay's release, saying in a statement, "We welcome the release today of Kevin Scott Sutay from captivity at the hands of the FARC."

"The United States is profoundly grateful to the government of Colombia and commends its tireless efforts to secure his release," he added, while also thanking the governments of Cuba and Norway for their part in Sutay's release.  

Sutay, 26, was traveling as a tourist when he was kidnapped in June in the Guaviare region. In September, at the FARC's request, US civil rights leader Jesse Jackson visited Colombia for talks in an effort to free Sutay.

"And we thank the Reverend Jesse Jackson for his efforts in consistently advocating for Mr Sutay’s release," Kerry said.

The FARC is thought to have between 7,000 and 8,000 soldiers, and is considered a terrorist group by the US and the European Union. The leftist group has fought Colombia's government for about five decades, though the rebels and government are currently engaged in peace talks.