Betancourt Healthy Following Release From Colombian JungleBy VOA News
06 July 2008

In this screenshot from a video released by Colombia's Army taken 2 July 2008, hostage Ingrid Betancourt reacts while being rescued from captivity by a Colombian military missionFrench-Colombian politician Ingrid Betancourt says she has been given a clean bill of health from doctors who examined her at a Paris military hospital Saturday.

The medical examination followed her release after six years as a Colombian rebel group's hostage.

Earlier, Betancourt told French media she suffered a series of ailments while living under harsh jungle conditions as a hostage of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC.

She was rescued Wednesday in a Colombian military operation along with 14 other high-profile hostages, including three American defense contractors.

The Colombian military Friday released a video of the operation that shows FARC rebels unwittingly handing their valuable hostages over to soldiers disguised as aid workers.

In another development, Colombian Defense Minister Juan Manuel Santos has rejected a Swiss radio report that Colombia paid millions of dollars in ransom to the rebels for the hostage release.

Santos also said the operation was executed entirely by Colombian forces. But he noted that the United States provided some equipment.

Betancourt - who was held captive for six years - is in Paris, where she has been welcomed by French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who lobbied for her release.

Betancourt was seized in 2002 while campaigning for the Colombian presidency. The three American contractors were kidnapped in 2003 when their small plane crashed in the Colombian jungle during a counter-narcotics operation.

Colombian intelligence officials tricked rebels into handing over their most prominent hostages for transport by helicopter to another location. The hostages boarded what turned out to be government helicopters that flew them to safety.

The operation is widely described as an embarrassing setback for the FARC, which has lost some of its senior commanders in recent months. Desertions also have trimmed its ranks.

The United States, Colombia and European Union have designated the FARC a terrorist organization. The group is believed to be holding more than 700 hostages in jungle locations.

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