Betancourt not yet ready to return to Colombia due to threats

Other News Materials 22 September 2008 23:54 (UTC +04:00)

Former Colombian presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt, who was held hostage by leftist rebels for more than six years before her rescue in early July, said Monday that she is not yet planning to return to Colombia because of death threats issued by her former captors, reported dpa.

"Returning to Colombia is my dream," Betancourt said told Colombia's Caracol Radio in a telephone interview from New York. "At this moment I have security difficulties, but I have to solve that in a very intelligent way without running any risks because this is a very sensitive issue for my family."

The former senator, who was the most high-profile hostage held by the leftist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) when she was freed in a military operation by Colombian forces on July 2, explained that her family has asked her not to return to the South American country as long as the security conditions are not more adequate.

Betancourt had already said in the past that FARC consider her and the 14 former hostages that were freed along with her as "fugitives." For this reason, she said she intends to take no risks.

"I have received (threats) and unfortunately it is a complicated situation," Betancourt said.

Still, she stressed that she will keep investing her efforts into the task of securing the release of hundreds of other hostages held by FARC.

Betancourt said she does not intend to run for president again in Colombia in 2010.

"It cannot be clearer: I have no intention of doing politics in Colombia, that is, there are many other ways of helping Colombia, even if you can never say never," she said.

She further thanked Brazil for the proposal that she take over as head of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), set to become vacant in 2009.

UNESCO "is not my top priority either," Betancourt said.