Welcome home: Contractor hostages released

After more than five years in captivity, three Northrop Grumman Corp. contract employees have been rescued by the Colombian military and have returned safely in time to celebrate Independence Day at home in the United States.

Marc Gonsalves, Thomas Howes and Keith Stansell were among the 15 people captured and held hostage by the leftist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia after their drug-surveillance plane went down in the jungles of southern Colombia in February 2003.

The 12 others rescued include 11 Colombian police and soldiers, and Ingrid Betancourt, a former Colombian presidential candidate.

The hostages were among those held and designated political prisoners by the rebel group, according to an Associated Press report. Although U.S. and Colombian government officials had repeatedly learned of the hostages' location, planned rescue missions were thwarted by the difficulty of getting the prisoners out alive, AP said.

About the Author

Sami Lais is a special contributor to Washington Technology.

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