Ingrid Betancourt, once the world's most pitied and celebrated jungle hostage, has spoken in detail for the first time about her six-and-a-half years as a captive of Colombian guerrillas.

In a voluminous book, published yesterday, the Franco-Colombian politician, 49, describes how she was humiliated, beaten and sexually assaulted by the ultra-leftist Farc guerrillas (Revolutionary Colombian Armed Forces), but managed to cling to her sanity and to her sense of identity.

In earlier books, written by fellow hostages, Betancourt has been accused of arrogance and selfishness while in captivity. She became deeply unpopular in her native country in June after asking for US$7 million ($9.4 million) in compensation from its Government.

Her estranged second husband, Juan Carlos Lecompte, filed court papers seeking half her fortune. Lecompte said she filed for divorce several months after the Colombian Government rescued her in July 2008.

In her 677-page book, Betancourt admits many errors and failings.

Betancourt was the Green candidate in a Colombian presidential election when she was captured in February 2002.

She survived beatings and humiliations, she said, partly through religious faith and partly through clinging to a conviction that "identity" and "self-respect" were more important than degradation or death.

In a book published last year, Out of Captivity, three American fellow hostages - Marc Gonsalves, Keith Stansell and Thomas Howes - accused Betancourt of demanding better treatment than other captives because of her social and political standing in Colombia. They say she wheedled and manipulated her way to more than a fair share of the limited food, clothing and living space allocated by the Farc.

Betancourt's friend and campaign helper, Clara Rojas, who was kidnapped with her, made similar criticisms in her book, Captive.

Betancourt makes several counter-allegations. She says that Rojas asked for formal permission from Farc leaders to have the baby to which she gave birth in captivity. The baby was taken from Rojas by the Farc, but later restored to her, after a maternity test, by the Colombian authorities. Rojas dismissed Betancourt's claim - and its implication of collaboration with the guerrillas - as a "spiteful lie".

Betancourt says one of the worst aspects of jungle life was having to put up with her fellow captives. Her relationship with Rojas, she says, broke down very quickly through arguments over food, space and failed escape attempts.

INDEPENDENT, AP