From the Associated Press
July 2, 2008
A look at key dates in the kidnapping of three American defense contractors and a Colombian politician held by Colombia's largest rebel force, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC.
Feb. 23, 2002 -- French-Colombian politician Ingrid Betancourt is kidnapped as she campaigns for president in a rebel-stronghold in southern Colombia.
Feb. 13, 2003 -- An aerial counter-drug surveillance flight goes down. Americans Thomas Howes, Marc Gonsalves, Keith Stansell and Thomas Janis are aboard. Rescue teams find Janis shot to death.
Feb. 24, 2003 -- The FARC claims responsibility for bringing down the plane and says it has the Americans.
July 2-22, 2003 -- Betancourt's sister, Astrid, and husband Juan Carlos Lecompte, wait in the Brazilian town of Tabatinga for her release. The FARC had told the family it would hand her over because of poor health, Lecompte says. There is no hand-over.
Aug. 28, 2003 -- FBI officials say they are studying a video of the Americans, recorded by a Colombian journalist. "It shows the men alive," says a U.S. official on condition of anonymity.
Aug. 30, 2003 -- Colombia's Noticias Uno shows a video of Betancourt, the first images of her in over a year.
Oct. 8, 2003 -- CBS' 60 Minutes II shows footage of the Americans urging authorities to negotiate their release and not risk a rescue, saying they would likely die in the attempt.
Aug. 16, 2007 -- Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez says he is willing to help mediate peace talks between the guerrillas and Colombian President Alvaro Uribe.
Nov. 21, 2007 -- Colombia's government cancels Chavez's mediation role after Chavez spoke directly with the head of Colombia's army, disobeying an order from Uribe.
Nov. 30, 2007 -- Colombian authorities release videos of the three Americans and Betancourt confiscated during a raid on three suspected members of the FARC's urban militias in Bogota.
July 2, 2008 -- Colombia announces that its military rescued Betancourt, the three American contractors and 11 other hostages.