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Colombian rebels free kidnapped former US Marine Kevin Scott Sutay

Former US Marine Kevin Scott Sutay.
Former US Marine Kevin Scott Sutay.El Tiempo via EPA, file

A former U.S. Marine held hostage since June by a revolutionary guerrilla group in Colombia was released Sunday morning to representatives of the governments of Cuba and Norway and delegates of the International Committee of the Red Cross.

Kevin Scott Sutay, a veteran of the war in Afghanistan, had been trekking through several Central and South American countries before he was seized June 20 by the FARC, or Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia.

Sutay had apparently refused to follow local officials' warnings against backpacking through rebel-held territory.

At 11:30 a.m., Sutay was handed over to U.S. government officials at the airport in the capital of Bogota, according to a joint statement from the governments of Cuba and Noway.

After a health check-up, he received a "good" report and will soon rejoin his family, the statement said.

In a statement, Secretary of State John Kerry thanked Colombia's government for its "tireless efforts" in working to free the Afghan war veteran, according to the Associated Press.

Kerry also thanked the Rev. Jesse Jackson, who pushed for Sutay's release.

It was not immediately clear what lead the Marxist-led FARC to free Sutay, believed to be in his late 20s, on Sunday.

Sutay's service record lists his hometown as Willow Spring, N.C., the AP reported.

The United States, which considers FARC a terrorist group, has assisted Colombia's government in a military offensive over the last 10 years that has pushed the rebels back into far-flung regions of the country and diminished their ranks, according to Reuters.

FARC first sprung up as a communist agrarian movement in 1964, and has since battled the government in what is now Latin America's longest-running insurgency.

The conflict between the Colombian government and FARC has left upwards of 200,000 people dead, according to Reuters.

Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.