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, 09:31

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

Nigeria @ 56: Words to my green f...

A leader’s job is not to dictate, but rather to be respected, admired and be a trustee, of the land we love, with so much potential, a land which should be freer than free. Its still a long way to fufilling our destiny! Read more...

Submitted by
Isaac Asabor263
Recession: An opportunity for Nig...

The recession should be seen as an opportunity for the country’s promotion as long as we all collectively conduct ourselves in a patriotic manner, writes Isaac Asabor.  Read more...

Submitted by
Black and White

We want to imitate the whites in everything because we are ignorant of our inherent originality and content. We spend all our Naira to acquire his inventions because we so oblivious of our natural endowments that we allow him have it for free. Read more...

Submitted by
Nate Nat
Adamawa State University Mubi: A ...

ADSU integrity forum has accused the Sunday Joshua Wugira, a lawyer, of adopting unorthodox tactics by abusing his privilege by attacking the integrity of ADSU Vice Chancellor Dr. Moses Zira Zaruwa, writes a News24 reader. Read more...

Submitted by
Abdulsalam Jubril
My Country Nigeria (Part One)

Poetry by Abdulsalam Jubril.

Submitted by
Abdulsalam Jubril
Recession, dearth in leadership a...

Every leader has the opportunity to become great and making himself immortal in the lives and hearts of people for generations to come. Will Mr. President seize this opportunity?, questions Abdulsalam Jubril. Read more...