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| 10/4/2010 12:00:00 AM

Did a Colombian Hostage Negotiator Play Both Sides?

October 4--For Colombia's long-suffering hostages, Piedad Córdoba was the great emancipator. Over the past three years, the left-wing senator played a key role in the release of more than a dozen prisoners held by guerrillas of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC

Did a Colombian Hostage Negotiator Play Both Sides? Did a Colombian Hostage Negotiator Play Both Sides?
The rebels wanted to trade their captives for jailed guerrillas. But Córdoba — who at times teamed up with Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez — helped convince the FARC to free them unilaterally. Her efforts reportedly put her on the short list for last year's Nobel Peace Prize. Without her intervention, says former hostage Luis Eladio Pérez, who was released in 2008, "we might have died in captivity."

Rather than prizes, however, Córdoba has reaped public scorn, legal battles and unemployment. On Sept. 27, she was stripped of her seat in the senate and banned from holding public office for 18 years. Alejandro Ordoñez, the government's inspector general who issued the disciplinary ruling, alleged that Córdoba went far beyond her role as a neutral mediator. Citing intercepted phone calls, e-mail messages, and testimony from a rebel infiltrator, Ordoñez charged that Córdoba had been playing both sides — pushing for the release of hostages one moment, "promoting and collaborating" with the FARC the next.
 
Read more here.

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