Hollywood fights for rights to Betancourt rescue

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The Independent Online

Two Hollywood film companies are competing for the rights to make a movie of the daring but controversial jungle rescue of the Franco-Colombian politician, Ingrid Betancourt.

Mme Betancourt, 47, rescued by the Colombian army in July after six years as a hostage of the ultra-left Farc guerilla group, has also decided to write a book about her experiences. The former Colombian presidential candidate, who has dual French and Colombian nationality, has refused until now to speak in detail about her captivity. Warner Brothers and Sony Pictures have declared an interest in making a film of the rescue of Mme Betancourt, three Americans and 11 others in an elaborate sting operation called Operation Jaque, or Operation Check.

The Colombian Defence Minister, Juan Manuel Santos, said: "Sony Pictures representatives came here and presented a project already well underway. Warner Brothers came as well. At the ministry, we offered them our full collaboration. The goal is that they release a good film true to the facts."

The nature of the rescue remains in dispute. Officially, Colombian intelligence infiltrated the Farc cell guarding the hostages. Soldiers posing as aid workers arrived by helicopter at the Farc's jungle hideout and tricked the guards into handing over the hostages.

Opposition politicians in Colombia say the rescue was not quite as daring and was a smoke-screen for a pre-arranged defection by guerrilla leaders.

Warner Brothers says it has acquired the film rights. A Sony spokesman said it was too early to comment.

Mr Santos said the film would be adapted from a book by the Colombian writer Juan Carlos Torres, which sticks close to the initial, and official, version of events.

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