BOGOTA – Spanish journalist Salud Hernandez-Mora was released on Friday in the same area of northeastern Colombia where she spent six days as a captive of the ELN rebel group.
Hernandez-Mora was freed in a rural zone of the Catatumbo region, Catholic Church sources told Caracol Radio.
The former captive was transported to the city of Ocaña, where she spoke to the media.
Hernandez-Mora was reported missing last weekend and Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos said earlier this week that it appeared she traveled to Catatumbo with the intention of doing a story on the ELN.
In comments Friday to RCN Television, the journalist stated categorically that she had been kidnapped.
“I would not voluntarily have my family suffering for 10 days,” she said, acknowledging that while she might be temporarily out of touch due to technical problems or the demands of a story, she would not willingly spend six days incommunicado.
Hernandez-Mora recounted some of the details of her disappearance last Saturday from El Tarra, a town in Catatumbo.
“I got on a motorcycle. I have always been reckless. A reporter has to be reckless, but relatively reckless,” she said. “We changed motorcycles several times looking for the guerrillas.”
Finally, the rebels appeared.
“They told me ‘you’re going to stay with us a few days’ and they took all my things,” Hernandez-Mora continued.
She said she was in five different locations during the six days she spent with the ELN fighters.
Hernandez-Mora thanked the Catholic Church and the national ombudsman’s office for their successful efforts to negotiate her release.
She also expressed gratitude to the army for the intensive search operations launched early this week in Catatumbo.
Asked about the two Noticias RCN correspondents who were grabbed by the ELN while in Catatumbo to report on her disappearance, Hernandez-Mora said she was unable to see them during her captivity.
She added, however, that based on what she heard from the ELN, she expected Diego D’Pablos and Carlos Melo to be released within the next 24 hours.
Hernandez-Mora is a correspondent for Spain’s El Mundo newspaper and writes a column for Colombian daily El Tiempo.