World

Colombia rebels free ex-US soldier

BOGOTA — Colombia’s main leftist rebel group released a former US Army private who the guerrillas seized in June after he refused to heed local officials’ warnings and wandered into rebel-held territory.

Kevin Scott Sutay of North Carolina, who is in his late 20s, was quietly turned over Sunday to Norwegian and Colombian officials along with the International Committee of the Red Cross in the same southeastern region where he had disappeared four months earlier.

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In a statement, Secretary of State John F. Kerry thanked Colombia’s government for its ‘‘tireless efforts’’ in securing the Afghanistan war veteran’s release. Kerry also thanked the Rev. Jesse Jackson for advocating for it.

The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, had said it was abandoning kidnapping as a condition for the launching of peace talks that began 11 months ago to end a half-century of internal conflict.

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Colombia’s president, Juan Manuel Santos, resisted FARC efforts to make what he deemed a ‘‘media show’’ of Sutay’s release and no images were released of the early-morning jungle release or of his late-morning arrival in Bogota, the capital.

The rebels had announced in July their intention to free Sutay as a good-faith gesture but the liberation was delayed.

Santos’s firmness on prohibiting a ceremonial release of Sutay included objecting to the FARC-endorsed intercession of Jackson, who met with rebel leaders in Cuba in late September and said then that he would go to Colombia to lobby for on behalf of Sutay’s release.

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Sutay was delivered at 11:30 a.m. local time to US government representatives at Bogota’s airport, according to a statement issued by the Cuban and Norwegian embassies.

The Red Cross said one of its doctors examined Sutay and he was well enough to travel.

It was not immediately clear whether he had flown on to the United States.

Associated Press

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