MEXICO CITY - Onetime Mexican presidential candidate Diego Fernandez de Cevallos was freed Monday, seven months after being kidnapped from his ranch in a stunning strike at a symbol of the country's rich and powerful.
Fernandez de Cevallos, 69, wearing a hooded sweat suit, his white beard grown bushy, appeared in good health. But in comments outside one of his homes in Mexico City, he provided no details on his months of captivity.
"I want to tell you that I am fine, thank God, that I'm strong, and that my life will go on being the same," he told reporters. He said he had forgiven the kidnappers, but called on authorities to catch them.
Fernandez de Cevallos drove off in a silver Mercedes-Benz, clutching a thick bouquet of red roses.
The release appeared to end a riveting drama around the cigar-chomping Fernandez de Cevallos, a wealthy lawyer who ran for president in 1994 and remained one of Mexico's most potent movers and shakers.
But questions remained, including who carried out the kidnapping and why Fernandez de Cevallos was freed now.
Mexican news media reported over the weekend that Fernandez de Cevallos would soon be released after they received a lengthy statement purportedly issued by his captors. Media reports said the kidnappers' undisclosed ransom demands had been met.
The 5,300-word statement brimmed with left-wing critiques of Mexico's political system and neoliberal economic policies. It described Fernandez de Cevallos as an influence peddler serving a corrupt political "mafia."
The statement mocked the Mexican government's war on drug cartels and was signed "Network for Global Transformation."
The captors periodically released photos of Fernandez de Cevallos, blindfolded and holding up Mexican publications to prove he was alive. A letter he purportedly wrote in June described captivity as "hell" and urged his family to redouble their efforts to raise the ransom.
Fernandez de Cevallos has been a mainstay of the right-leaning PAN - the party of President Felipe Calderon - since long before it had a realistic chance of winning power in Mexico. Possible suspects ranged from drug cartels to leftist guerrilla-type movements that have carried out kidnappings in the past.