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Last Updated: Sunday, 22 January 2006, 05:09 GMT
Captive Colombians in Chavez plea
Relatives watch the video in Cali, Colombia
Relatives say they support the asylum plea to Venezuela
Twelve Colombian politicians kidnapped by Marxist rebels in 2002 have appealed in a video for Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez to help in their release.

The video, released by the rebels and shown on Colombian TV, was the first sign since October 2004 that the provincial lawmakers were still alive.

Mr Chavez has in the past been accused of supporting the rebels, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia.

Colombia said it would not object to Venezuela helping to secure a release.

The politicians were abducted by Farc rebels dressed as policemen in April 2002 in Cali, 300km (190 miles) south-west of Bogota.

Hostage swap

In the video, the kidnapped lawmakers express frustration at efforts to secure their release.

Hostage Nacianceno Orozco says: "Considering the indifference of the government and the Farc for an accord to secure our freedom, I formally ask Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez to grant me political asylum."

Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Farc) fighters
Farc has been involved in conflict in Colombia for 40 years

A second hostage, Juan Carlos Narvaez, repeats the asylum plea.

Analysts say the video is an attempt to get Mr Chavez to take up the hostages' plight with the Colombian government.

Colombian President Alvaro Uribe said he would not oppose the asylum request if Venezuela was also supportive.

"The government considers it fundamental that our compatriots' freedom is restored and that they are returned to their families," he said.

Venezuela has yet to comment.

Relatives of the kidnapped politicians also backed the asylum move.

Mr Narvaez's wife, Fabiola Perdomo, said: "We're going to undertake this proposal as if it were our own, because the voice of our kidnapped family members is the same as ours."

Some Colombian politicians have accused President Chavez in the past of backing Farc. He has offered to help with any swap of hostages for Farc prisoners, but Colombia refused.

Farc has about 60 high-profile hostages, including three Americans and French-Colombian Ingrid Betancourt, who was seized while campaigning for president in 2002.

Farc and the smaller National Liberation Army (ELN) have been involved in a 40-year conflict with state forces and right-wing paramilitary groups.

Tens of thousands of civilians are known to have been killed in the conflict.


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