BOGOTA – A video showing the three journalists from Ecuador’s El Comercio newspaper kidnapped on March 26 on the border with Colombia was aired on Tuesday by Canal RCN, providing the first proof that they are alive.
The 22-second video shows the kidnapped reporters saying that their lives were in the hands of Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno because the kidnappers want to “exchange” them for three comrades “detained in Ecuador.”
Ecuador’s government responded to the video’s airing with a statement that called on media outlets to act responsibly to avoid damaging mediation efforts.
“In light of the airing of a video by a Colombian media outlet showing the three members of the kidnapped journalistic team, the national government expresses its deepest unease and rejection,” the Communications Secretariat said in a statement.
The Moreno administration said the media should act responsibly in releasing information about the kidnapping.
“The well-being of citizens and their families is the priority for our administration, that is why the management of information has been and will continue to be responsible and in accordance with the procedures established for the release of our citizens,” the government said.
The Moreno administration urged Ecuadorian media outlets to handle information about the kidnapping case and criticized RCN’s airing of the footage.
El Comercio reporter Javier Ortega, 32, photographer Paul Rivas, 45, and driver Efrain Segarra, 60, were abducted on the Ecuador-Colombia border and their whereabouts is unknown.
Last week, Colombian armed forces chief Gen. Alberto Mejia said the three men were kidnapped by a dissident faction of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC)
The Colombian government reached a peace agreement with the FARC, which demobilized and transformed itself into a political party that uses the same acronym.