The release of the three Americans from the FARC rebels has been greeted with jubilation in the United States.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said she was overjoyed at the news that Thomas Howes, Keith Stansell and Marc Gonsalves were safely back on home soil. The White House said it had been kept informed of Colombia’s operation, but had not been asked to give its approval.
The three men arrived in Texas overnight, facing medical checks before being reunited with their families. All are said to be in reasonably good health. They were seized in 2003 when their light plane came down in the Colombian jungle during an anti-drugs mission co-ordinated by the US Defence Department. Their families never gave up hope throughout their five years in captivity and said their freedom was the best news they could ever have wished for.