US court indicts Dutch Farc rebel Tanja Nijmeijer

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Tanja Nijmeijer
Image caption,
If convicted, Ms Nijmeijer could face 60 years in a US jail

A US court has indicted a Dutch member of the Colombian Farc rebel group on kidnapping charges.

Tanja Nijmeijer joined the left-wing guerrilla group shortly after her arrival in Colombia, and is believed to be still at large.

The court accuses her of hostage-taking and "conspiracy to provide support to terrorists".

The federal grand jury says she was part of a group of Farc rebels who kidnapped three American contractors.

The three, Marc Gonsalves, Keith Stansell and Thomas Howe, were taken hostage by the Farc after their plane crashed in the jungle.

'Proud guerrilla'

They were freed by the Colombian security forces after five years in captivity in 2008, alongside Colombian hostages, including the former presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt.

US Attorney Ronald Machen says the indictment "demonstrates our firm resolve to bring to justice every last Farc commander who played any part in this brutal act of terrorism".

Ms Nijmeijer, 32, joined the Farc in 2002 after having taught English in a school in Pereira, in central Colombia.

In an interview for Radio Netherlands recorded in August 2010, she said she would fight until victory or death.

She also warned the Colombian authorities that if they tried to rescue her she would "meet them with machine guns, mines and mortars".

"I am proud to be a guerrilla and to be able to work together with the Colombian people and the other guerrillas, to take power and proclaim the revolution," she told Colombian journalist Jorge Enrique Botero in Spanish during the interview in the jungle.

The federal grand jury charged Ms Nijmeijer and 17 other Farc rebels with hostage-taking, conspiracy to provide support and weapons charges.

If they were to be caught, extradited to the United States and convicted, the 18 could face up to 60 years in jail.

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