INTRODUCTION: Kidnappers holding an American language expert in Colombia say he will be executed on Thursday (February 19) unless their demands are met.
SV PAN: Map of Colombia inside language institute building and other pictures on wall (2 shots)
SV AND SCU: News-paper headlines on Bitterman kidnapping (5 shots)
GV EXTERIOR: Language institute building and girl enters (3 shots)
SV ZOOM OUT: Reporter speaking through door of building
SCU: Institute president Albert Wheeler comments on kidnapping
SPEECH ON FILM (TRANSCRIPT)
WHEELER: "Good morning, the (INDISTINCT) Institute of Linguistics in Bogota. It is 2 days before the time runs out according to the demands of people who are holding Mr. Bitterman hostage. We are all praying very fervently together with a continuous chain before God asking him to intervene in the case of Chester Bitterman so that he may be set free, completely healthy. We are glad to know that all the people in the world are very concerned about his condition. We want you to know that not long ago we received a communication in which he said that he was being treated well and that he is in good health, although we were concerned about his physical condition. We also want you to know that his wife Brenda and his 2 little girls ages 3 and 1 are waiting anxiously for the outcome of this situation and are trusting God to return their husband and father to them."
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: INTRODUCTION: Kidnappers holding an American language expert in Colombia say he will be executed on Thursday (February 19) unless their demands are met. The kidnappers claim to be members of the "M-19 Movement" an organisation which made its name in the take over of the dominican embassy last year. The victim is Chester Bitterman, an official of an American language institute operating in the capital, Bogota. The kidnappers claim the institute is nothing more than a front for America's Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).
SYNOPSIS: The language institute occupies a 2 storey building in the suburbs of Bogota and has been responsible for translating the Bible into several Indian languages. But the kidnappers have accused the institute's staff of being spies.
They are now demanding that the institute be ordered out of Colombia. There has been some confusion over who was responsible for the abduction. Last weekend, three Colombian journalists were seized by guerrillas and told "M-19" had nothing to do with the Bitterman case. But the group has since claimed responsibility.
There is now speculation that there may be a split in "M-19" or Mr. Bitterman may have been taken by another group altogether. The victim's wife has distributed a letter to Bogota newspapers appealing for his release. And the president of the institute Albert Wheeler says Mr. Bitterman's family is still hopeful of seeing him alive despite the Thursday deadline.