* Rebels accuse government of manipulating the media
* French reporter seized while with Colombian troops
BOGOTA, May 7 (Reuters) - Colombia's leftist FARC rebels demanded a debate on freedom of information Monday as a first step toward the release of a French reporter kidnapped nine days ago, as they accused the government of manipulating journalists.
Romeo Langlois, a reporter for news channel France 24, was embedded with government troops carrying out an anti-drug raid on April 28 when a firefight broke out with members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, who later took him hostage.
"The minimum thing that should happen before he recovers his freedom is a broad-ranging debate about freedom of information," the FARC said in a statement, without specifying exactly what form the debate should take.
"The journalists that the armed forces carry with them ... do not comply with their duty to report impartially about reality, they manipulate (the facts)."
The FARC on Sunday issued a video statement confirming that they are holding Langlois hostage.
While the FARC has kidnapped thousands of people since it was created in 1964, in February the group said it would stop taking hostages for ransom to pay for weapons, uniforms or food.
It did not say, however, that it would stop kidnapping for so-called political means to pressure the government. (Reporting by Luis Jaime Acosta; Writing by Eduardo Garcia; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne, Doina Chiacu)