The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, guerrilla group says it has been holding a U.S. veteran of the war in Afghanistan for a month and offered to release him as a “gesture” to the Colombian government within the framework of peace talks in Cuba.
“Despite the right we possess to hold soldier Kevin Scott Sutay as a prisoner of war, we have taken the political decision to release him,” the FARC said on its Web site.
Colombia’s largest rebel army urged a humanitarian delegation consisting of the International Committee of the Red Cross and former Sen. Piedad Cordoba be formed for the purpose of the release.
The communique added that Scott was captured on June 20 in El Retorno, a town in the south-central jungle province of Guaviare.
It said the soldier was born in New York City and provided the number and issue date of the passport he was carrying at the time he was “detained by guerrilla units.”
The FARC added that Scott told them he had been a member of the U.S. Navy from Nov. 17, 2009, to March 22, 2013, and served in Afghanistan in 2010 and 2011 as an anti-mining and explosives expert.
They said he entered Colombia on June 8, 2013, after traveling through Mexico, Honduras, Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Panama and made his way to San Jose del Guaviare, “location of the military base of Barrancon,” where they said “the presence of U.S. soldiers has been known for some time.”
According to the FARC, “the capture of soldier Kevin makes clear the active participation on the ground of U.S. soldiers and mercenaries in counterinsurgency operations.”
The Colombian government and the FARC have been holding peace talks in Havana since November aimed at bringing an end to a more than 50-year-old armed conflict.