The guerrilla group who kidnapped Luis Diaz’s father have said they are willing to release him if they get security guarantees from the Colombian government.
The Liverpool forward’s father, Luis Manuel Diaz, was seized at gunpoint by the National Liberation Army (ELN) on 28 October along with his wife, Cilenis Marulanda, who was then freed by police.
Diaz marked his return to football by scoring a late equaliser for Liverpool at Luton on Sunday and revealing a T-shirt with a message of “Libertad Para Papa” (freedom for dad). He then released a statement calling on the ELN to let his father go.
The ELN claimed the search by the Colombian authorities is delaying the release of Diaz. Police had offered a £39,000 reward for information that led to his rescue, while they are searching the area in a bid to find him.
In a statement from commander Jose Manuel Martinez Quiroz, ELN said: “We are making efforts to avoid incidents with government forces. The area is still militarised, they are carrying out flyovers, disembarking troops, broadcasting and offering rewards as part of an intense search operation.
“This situation is not allowing for the execution of the release plan quickly and safely, where Mr Luis Manuel Diaz is not at risk.
“If operations continue in the area, they will delay the release and increase the risks. We understand the anguish of the Diaz Marulanda family, to whom we say that we will keep our word to release him unilaterally, as soon as we have security guarantees for the development of the liberation operation.”
ELN claimed they informed the Colombian authorities on 2 November of their intention to release Diaz Sr.
Luis Diaz had said on Sunday: “Today, it is not the footballer speaking to you, today Lucho Diaz, the son of Luis Manuel Diaz, is speaking to you. Mane, my dad, is a tireless worker, the pillar of the family and he has been kidnapped.
“I ask the ELN for the prompt release of my father, and I ask international organisations to intervene for his freedom. Every second, every minute our anguish grows; My mother, my brothers and I are desperate, distressed and unable to find the words to describe what we are feeling. This suffering will only end when we get him back home.”