Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.


Farc rebels free former American GI

28 October 2013, 16:13

Bogota - Colombia's main leftist rebel group on Sunday 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, who is in his late 20s, was quietly turned over to Cuban and Norwegian officials along with the International Committee of the Red Cross in the same south-eastern region where he had disappeared four months earlier.

US Secretary of State John Kerry immediately thanked Colombia's government in a statement for its "tireless efforts" in securing the Afghanistan war veteran's release. Kerry also thanked the Reverend Jesse Jackson for advocating 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 internal conflict. Cuba and Norway are serving as facilitators in those talks.

Colombian 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 handover or of his reported late-morning arrival in Bogota, the capital.

A tourist

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

On 8 October, the Farc published on its website what it billed as a recounting of Sutay's life in his own words that it prefaced by describing him not as the US agent it originally suspected but rather a vagabond traveller,"a classic gringo, a gum-chewer and marijuana smoker, who with backpack on his back, blue jeans and a few dollars in his pocket lights out to know and travel the world".

Santos' 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 on behalf of Sutay's release.

Sutay was delivered 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 good to travel and be reunited with his family. It was not immediately clear if he had flown on to the United States.

Sutay was the only foreigner known to be currently held by Colombian rebels.

Attempts by The Associated Press to locate relatives of Sutay after his capture were unsuccessful. His service record lists his hometown as Willow Spring, North Carolina.

Sutay was in Colombia as a tourist, the US Embassy has said.

When the Farc announced his 20 June capture in the south-eastern state of Guaviare, it said it suspected him of being an agent of the US government, whose close military assistance in training, logistics, surveillance and intelligence since 2000 has helped Colombia's government badly weaken the rebels.

Local officials in Guaviare and international reporters who encountered Sutay there in mid-June said he appeared to be nothing but a tourist who spoke little Spanish and was determined to travel by land through thick jungle to Puerto Inirida on Colombia's eastern border with Venezuela.

- AP


Read News24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Read more from our Users

Submitted by
Wilson Ochieng
ODM MP chased down by angry Kibra...

Kibra MP Ken Okoth had a hard time in his constituency after angry youth pelted him with stones. Read more...

Submitted by
Wilson Ochieng
Prepare for DP Ruto fight in 2022...

An MP has warned that the Kalenjin Community will not stand back and watch as DP Ruto is duped ahead of the 2022 polls. Read more...

Submitted by
William Korir
Be careful who you deal with, DP ...

Watch out for your political future, DP William Ruto has been warned. Read more...

Submitted by
William Korir
Kikuyu 2022 vote will go to Peter...

The 2022 Kikuyu vote will go to Peter Kenneth, a Rift Valley Governor has warned DP William Ruto. Read more...

Submitted by
William Korir
CORD threatens to boycott 2017 po...

The CORD Coalition says that it will be forced to boycott the 2017 elections if there is no new voter register in place by the time. Read more...

Submitted by
Wilson Ochieng
Disgraced Jeptoo stripped of 2014...

Organizers of the Boston Marathon are stripping Kenyan runner Rita Jeptoo of her 2014 victory as part of the athlete's newly extended doping ban. Read more...