Report: France paid ransom for Betancourt five years ago
France anonymously paid ransom money for the release of former presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt to the FARC rebels five years ago, according to Colombia media reports.
Messages on a computer retrieved after a March 1 raid killed the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) second-in-command Raul Reyes revealed he wrote to his boss Manuel Marulanda that a ransom was paid but the identity was not known, reported RCN radio on Monday.
Since French-Colombian Betancourt and 14 other hostages were freed on Wednesday in a Colombian armed forces operation, the French government has insisted it paid no ransom money in connection with the operation, reported dpa.
Colombia media speculated that the failed ransom payment five years ago can also explain why a French plane was on standby in the Brazilian city of Manaos in June 2003.
In an interview with Argentina's America television in Paris, Betancourt said the Marxist group of rebels does not have a right to exist as a military organization.
"The FARC have a big problem if they want to be a political alternative, then they would have to be able to give persuasive arguments for their cause," said Betancourt.
The rebels are concentrating on the drug trade and money-making and have lost their alleged goal, which is to have power in the state, said Betancourt.
"Today they are only a lonely, autistic organization, which sits in the jungle," said the 46-year-old Betancourt who spent six years as a hostage of FARC.