US indicts Tanja Nijmeijer on terror charges

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The United States has indicted Dutch-born Tanja Nijmeijer and 17 other members of Colombia's FARC rebel movement on terrorism charges. They are accused of detaining three Americans in brutal conditions in the jungle. The rebels allegedly transported them across the border into Venezuela to avoid capture.

According to the US Justice Department, a federal grand jury has charged them with seven counts, including hostage-taking, conspiracy to provide support to terrorists, and weapons charges. The charges relate to the capture, in 2003, of Americans Marc Gonsalves, Keith Stansell and Thomas Howes, when their reconnaissance plane crash-landed in the Colombian jungle.

The plane's American pilot and a Colombian national onboard were immediately executed by the FARC. Four of the Colombian defendants face the extra charge of pre-meditated murder in the death of the US national, the statement says. Ms Nijmeijer is not charged with murder.

If caught and convicted, each defendant would face up to 60 years in prison, the maximum allowed under Colombian law for nationals extradited to the United States. The four charged with murder face an additional 60 years behind bars, the Justice Department says.

Ms Nijmeijer, a 32-year-old former schoolteacher who goes by the code-name "Alexandra," is believed to have served as personal assistant to Jorge Briceno, better known as 'Mono Jojoy', a top FARC commander who was killed in a September government raid on his hideout.

A recent documentary broadcast by Radio Netherlands Worldwide shows Ms Nijmeijer with the three Americans. She served as an English-Spanish interpreter when the three were interrogated by the FARC rebels.

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