FARC Defector Gets Asylum in France, $400K

Former rebel carried 8-year hostage out of the jungle
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 10, 2008 5:48 AM CST
Colombia's Defense Minister Juan Manuel Santos, top left, and former FARC member Wilson Bueno Largo, second from right, in Bogota, Tuesday, Dec. 9, 2008.   (AP Photo/Fernando Vergara)
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(Newser) – A commander who deserted Colombia's rebel group FARC has been offered $400,000 and asylum in France alongside Ingrid Betancourt, their former hostage. Wilson Bueno Largo fled the jungle in October after years in FARC, carrying a kidnapped congressman on his back. Bueno's defection from the group dealt a substantial blow to the rebel group's morale, writes the BBC.

Last year France offered asylum to FARC rebels who deserted the group while aiding the rescue of hostages. Colombia's defense minister insisted that "we are not rewarding a kidnapping," and that Bueno was critical to the hostage's release. The rebel group, which has been fighting Colombian forces for decades, still holds about 28 high-profile hostages whom they hope to swap in a prisoner exchange.