to lead an investigation into allegations that the trump election campaign colluded with russia. he's a former head of the fbi, robert mueller. the choice has been widely welcomed, across the political spectrum. the venezuelan government has reinforced its military presence in the state of tatcheera, along the colombian border — which it considers a centre for anti—government radicals. the defence minister says 2,600 troops will be sent to quell looting and rioting. the number of child migrants and refugees travelling alone around the world has reached record numbers, according to the united nations children's fund. unicef officials say at least 300,000 children applied for asylum last year and warn many are at risk of violence, abuse and exploitation by smugglers and traffickers. now on bbc news, it's time for hardtalk. today i'm in paris for a special edition of hardtalk. my guest came to the city a week ago
from the jungles of colombia. she came as a free woman after more than six years as perhaps the most famous captive in the world. hers is an extraordinary story, from hellish imprisonment to miraculous rescue. and now ingrid betancourt is ready to tell it. ingrid betancourt, welcome to hardtalk. thank you so much, i'm so glad to be here with you today. we're very glad to have you on the programme.
you've had a week and a little bit more of freedom. how do you feel now? well, it's a shock. first, because after years of being everyday submerged into sadness, i'm the opposite now. it's the euphoria of being with my family, and feeling so much happiness, it's just great. has the euphoria to any extent worn off yet? no. i hope it won't go ever again. i mean, i would like to always remember how great it is to be alive and how great it is to be free. i don't want to forget it. i think we shouldn't forget. it's a privilege. has it been somewhat disorientating to be, for more than six years, a captive with no choices, no ability to make any decision for yourself, suddenly to be pushed into this world where there are thousands of choices to be made every day? that's true, that's one
of the impacts of this new life. there are others, like for example knowing that i don't have a life, i have to build a life. i am intruding in the life of my children, they have their life, they have to continue their life, now with me present. and so i know that i need to find my way, which is not, i mean, it's not easy, but it's beautiful. but i think i need to just, i think i am achieving the first part of this new life, getting in touch with everybody and thanking everybody, but i know that now i have to just retreat and be alone with my family and construct my matrix with the one i love, and then it will take time. i know i need time. i want to talk more about your family and the future but now
iwant to... tell me exactly what you remember of the release, the rescue, because there have been a lot of details released about it. people across the world are fascinated. it seems miraculous, but how did it look from your point of view? well, what you said, the exact word is miraculous. when i think about my life, i say it's incredible what happened. i will tell you. we woke up at four in the morning with our normal things to do. i always pray, and i would wait for my mother's message on the radio. it was very important for me.
and then they released us. we were chained and they said "you have to pack, you have to get ready." we knew because we had talks with the commanders, that there was an international commission that was planned to get in touch with us, but we didn't know really what was going to happen. during that morning, one of the commanders came to speak to me and i asked him what we could be waiting for, and he said, "there is a helicopter that will come and it will take you somewhere where you are going to talk with the higher commanders", and then afterwards he said, "i don't know, perhaps some of you will be free, perhaps some of you are going to be transferred somewhere else or perhaps you are going to come back here. we don't know," he said.
so when i spoke and shared this information with my inmates, what i thought was perhaps one of us could be released. of course i know that in our hearts we all prayed that it was our turn, so we were like excited but frightened, you now? and at the same time, for example in my case i didn't want to be released without the others. i knew it wouldn't be, i felt it wasn't good. i didn't want that to happen. and then we saw the helicopters. then they moved us when the helicopters approached the site. we had to cross the river, we were very close to the site where the landing was done. and there was a group of five people that came out of the helicopter, four men and a woman, and these guys were dressed in white. and they had all kind of badges and things, and i thought, my god. and my friends were asking me,
"do you know these guys, are these guys french? are they swiss?" and i said, i don't know, i don't know them, i don't recognise anybody. and we were surrounded while the guards that were telling us to shut up and not to talk. the farc guys? the farc guys. and they were very excited, and they were aggressive. and these guys came and they wanted to talk only to the commanders so they went away with the commanders and we could see that they were hugging and they were giving them things and then we saw they gave them like some drinks to give
to all the group, and we thought, what is this? it's the farc, it's those guys, they are the same. it's not an international commission, this is fake. and there was in the group a cameraman, and he was taping. so i felt very uncomfortable and tried to keep in the rear because i did not want them to take me. so you are now feeling deep disappointment. you thought perhaps this was an international mission, perhaps even some of you might be free and suddenly you think, this is just another farc move. yes, and they are using us, they want to show the world that we are ok, that we are alive, and probably they will use the images to say, "don't worry, we are the good guys, we're taking care of them." so to prepare everybody, like for four or five years more of abduction.
so they handcuffed you? well, that was the thing. they said if you want to get into the helicopter, you have to be handcuffed. it was so humiliating. and one of my companions said, "i don't want to get into the helicopter, i refuse. i'm not going with you, i'm not going to accept to be handcuffed." i knew from the experience i had with the farc that we couldn't, i mean if the farc had decided to take us in the helicopter, when you have a gun pointed at you you will not ask if you like or if you do not like, you have to do what they tell you to do. i am trying to imagine you in your handcuffs, taken into the helicopter, it takes off and at this point you have not an inkling that rescue is at hand. no.
we see the commanders that have been with us during all this time, our enemies that have been so cruel with us, that have been in the helicopter with us, and then in a second, the guy is on the floor. i see everybody punching him and i said, what happened? and then it is like in the same second the leader of the operation screams, "we are the colombian army, you are free." it's something incredible. i cannot find words to tell you. because i knew it had to be real. and at the same time, the explosion of feelings was so intense that i was like, i thought perhaps i wasn't feeling anything. i screamed, i was yelling, and then i thought, this is ridiculous, i cannot screen. my god. —— scream.
and then all the others came and helped me and everybody was kissing me, and i was in tears, but at the same time, is it true? it was like... the greatest? the greatest moment. the greatest moment of your life? no, because the birth of my children was better. but that was the greatest moment of all this ordeal. at that moment also, you could see the guys who had been responsible for your captivity themselves bound. i think one of them was naked. did you feel intense anger at that point? did you want to go and kick them? no, no. i was telling my companions not to do that, because i had a moment, some seconds. i prayed. i prayed to god. you know, i think that it's very
important to be free, totally free, and i think that anger or seeking revenge or bitterness, it is like chains. the same chains that they had us wearing all those years. it is like those kind of chains. but at the same time you cannot forget what they did to you. you must forgive and you must not forget. but it is for another reason. i think that, psychologically speaking, you have to forget. you have to... that is what i'm doing great now, i'm trying to just have a break. i need those memories to come up to the surface very slowly. because i know that i am fragile still. and there are things that
i just can't cope with. you mean memories of physical abuse? memories, memories of things. things we lived. but at the same time, i know that those things that we lived, not only me but all of us, we have to do the necessary crossing inside of ourselves to give testimony, so that what we lived does not happen again to anybody else. because the world wants to know what the farc did to you. did they torture you? i am not going to talk about those things. it isjust a decision i have made. i am not ready. i don't know if sometime in the future i will talk about those things, but what i know is that the world, it is sufficient for the world to know that war is something that
breaks lives and breaks your soul, and that those that do not know what being victims of a war is cannot understand the privilege to live in peace. i want to show to you words that you yourself wrote to your daughter, melanie. we had melanie on our programme, we talked to her a couple of months ago. it was an extraordinarily courageous interview she gave us. and she shared with us the words that you wrote to her, when you talked of being weary of suffering. you said, "sometimes death seems to me a sweet option." you must have been at a terrible place when you wrote that. yes. now it's the time to think
about the others that are still living that ordeal, and to know that we can make the difference for them in their lives, if we are vocal, if we move, if we just... we have to fight for them. you left a lot of people behind. yes. how do you cope with that knowledge? there are believed to be perhaps 700 prisoners still held by the farc. if the numbers are accurate, we have 3000 hostages in colombia, 700 held by the farc, and there are 25 persons that were political prisoners like me. the others are held — the farc has this horrible business of kidnapping people for money.
so the 700 we're talking about, they want money for various reasons. but the difference is that the political hostages, our families cannot do anything about our situation. we have to go through others to take care of our problem because it is political. so i think it's — that is why, well, we have to move. do you fear for their current situation, given that you and 14 others, the most high—profile prisoners have been seized
from the grip of the farc? yes. i'll tell you, there's not a minute of my life, day and night, in any of my dreams since i have been released, that i don't have this communion with their fate, knowing that they can be killed at any moment. they are at risk. and this has to end now. because every second that is added to their suffering is a second where the risk of death is present. how does it end? do you believe that president uribe of colombia should continue with the tough military strategy and in the end, should he seek to destroy the farc? i think that the farc have to understand that it's over. it's over. their time is over.
the world wants to see a colombia in peace. there is no place for them any more in colombia. i'm not going to tell the president of colombia what to do, the only thing that i know is that the hearts of all colombians are seeking a new life. we want to be able to recover our country in peace, and that's something that uribe has to reflect on and the farc have to reflect on, too. but it would be fair to say when you were taken you actually were in farc territory because as a presidential candidate you believed it was worthwhile trying to open up a dialogue. do you still believe there is something to talk about,
to negotiate about, or now it has to be a question of farc surrender? we are human beings and human beings are beings of words. the word is what makes us different. the words are our strongest weapon. we need to talk to make peace. the only way we're going to solve the problems in colombia is if we establish a space where we can talk without fearing to be killed. so this is something that we have to work on. it's not easy. we know it in our everyday life, in the family when there is a problem, finding the right words, saying them in the right moment with the right tone, it is difficult. well, that happens
also for a nation. you described how you would listen to your mother on the radio. you have also described how messages from your family were the oxygen, the thing that kept your head above water, you said. how did you, throughout those years, know what was happening to your family, to your country? how did you know? well, i had the radio. the radio was our tv, dvd, all those gadgets that you have now, and that i don't know how to use. they let you listen to the bbc? it was so important. i listened to the bbc every day, twice a day. i can tell you the names of all the guys that broadcast in the bbc. the guys that work in the bbc for the radio, they have this incredible ability to be so expressive in describing things where they are that you just listen to them and you see. you can see what they are talking about.
you can hear their surroundings, and you know if there is wind, if it is hot, you see it. but ingrid betancourt, in the end, despite the expressive journalism you were able to listen to, you could not know what was happening to your family and i want to know, before we finish, what it has been like getting to know your daughter, melanie, yourson, lorenzo, again, having missed six years of their growing up. i believe, 19, your son — 21, your daughter. what has it been like getting to know them again? it has been a magic blessing. that sounds like, i mean, the opposite, but it's
nothing like that. it's magic because it's something that happens like this, and it's a blessing because ijust feel it comes from god. i mean it's like for example i tell you, i was feeling so much that when i would see my mother again, i would see an old woman. and i knew it would break my heart. because when i left, she was beautiful and so active. and when i saw her, it was like no day, the time didn't touch her. but my children, it was exactly the opposite. i knew that those children that i left had become adults and i was trying to imagine how they would be physically and in their character and spiritually. and i would always be so... i would imagine things, the best. what would be the best that i could expect? and the reality was better
than all the best that i could imagine. you sit here and you have been through unimaginable things, and yet you look so serene and so strong. but that's the exterior, that's what i see. ijust wonder, when you think about yourself, ingrid betancourt, how have you changed over the last six and a half years? how are you different now from the woman that you were, running for president in 2002? i'm a woman, i'm a fragile woman. the difference is that now i know, so i take care. you know what? that i'm fragile. ingrid betancourt, thank you very much for being on hardtalk with me. thank you. hello.
i know many gardeners in england wanted some rain, but i suspect some of those gardens are now water—logged after what happened during wednesday. this is one soggy picture from lincolnshire. and in fact it was at coningsby, in lincolnshire, that was one of the wettest places during wednesday, notching up about 40mm of rain — that is nearly a month worth of rain in 2a hours, but you can see elsewhere widely around 20—1i0mm of rain from this weather system and clearing now into the north sea. we have a few showers for northern ireland and western scotland, parts of wales, north—west england stayed dry. now we are looking at a fresher feel to things during thursday and for the next few days as we bring in some slightly cooler air. it is more noticeably fresher, less humid rather than cooler because, actually, in some sunshine,
where we had the rain during wednesday, it will feel warmer. the sun will eventually come out after perhaps a cloudy start in east anglia and south—east england. elsewhere, plenty of blue sky to begin the day. take a look at things at 8am. some sunshine in the channel islands after wednesday wet weather. plenty of blue sky in south—west england. again brightening up in the far east of england after perhaps a cloudy start. now there is a chance from the word go of picking up a shower somewhere in wales, north—west england. northern ireland, don't be fooled by a dry bright start, cloud will build quite quickly in the morning, showers break out and there will be one or two across western part of scotland to begin the day. let's go on through thursday and see how the weather develops then. quite quickly the cloud builds in northern ireland. the risk of catching a slow—moving heavy and possibly thundery downpours may come with a bit of hail as well. some beefy showers developing in scotland, too, especially
to the north. one or two heavy showers for the afternoon for northern england, for wales and south—west england. maybe an isolated one late in the day in the midlands. much of east anglia and south—east england staying dry. a fresher feel to things, but again quite pleasant in some sunshine. things cool down when the showers move through. some of the showers continue during thursday evening. but as we go through thursday night and into friday morning, another area of rain running up the eastern side of england. during friday, that could actually move across more of the uk, more of northern england and scotland, as we go on through the day. so there's still some uncertainty about this weather system. keep checking the forecast. elsewhere on friday, we're expecting sunshine, showers again, temperatures into the mid—teens. cooler though where you have any persistent rain rather than showers. we're going to keep low pressure close by going the weekend. perhaps some rain across part of scotland to begin saturday. elsewhere sunshine and showers. throughout the weekend, pleasant in some sunshine. cool with the showers, that could be heavy. fresh—feeling days and there will be some chilly nights. this is bbc news. i'm james menendez.
our top stories: a special prosecutor's appointed to investigate allegations that the trump campaign colluded with russia, as the president complains about his treatment by the media. guru politician in history, and i say this with great maturity, has been treated worse or more on fairly —— no politician —— unfairly. venezuela steps up its military presence along the colombian border as violent anti—government protests spread across the country. 0n the brink of victory — real madrid edge closer to winning the spanish league for the first time in five years. and i'm sally bundock. from trump bump to trump slump. us markets have their worst day since the presidential election