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Interpol says captured FARC data authentic

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Latest update : 2008-05-16

Interpol said the computer data seized from Colombia's FARC rebels is authentic. Bogota claims the information on the computer proves close links between the Colombian rebels and both Venezuela and Ecuador.

Interpol confirmed Thursday the authenticity of a trove of computer documents seized from Colombia's FARC guerrillas which Bogota says prove close links between the rebels and Venezuela and Ecuador.
  
Interpol Secretary General Ronald Noble said the global police group found no sign that the data had been disturbed, altered or corrupted after the computers were seized in a March 1 raid by Colombian soldiers on a Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) camp inside Ecuador.
  
"Based on our careful and comprehensive forensic examination of each of the eight seized FARC computer exhibits, and on consideration of all the evidence reviewed by our experts, Interpol concludes that there was no tampering with any data on the computer exhibits following their seizure," Noble said.
  
He would not comment on the quality of the information in the nearly 38,000 files found on the three Toshiba laptop computers, two hard disk drives and three USB memory sticks of Raul Reyes, the FARC's second-in-command, who was killed in the raid.
  
Noble said Interpol's experts did not have the capacity to examine and translate each of the mostly Spanish documents, which he said would take 1,000 years to read at 100 pages a day.
  
But he said Interpol experts concluded the data had not been tampered with in the three days before they were turned over to Colombian police forensic experts.
  
Bogota has said the data on the computers proves that FARC is "financed and armed by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez," who assisted in securing the release this year of six hostages held by the rebels.
  
In Caracas, Chavez dismissed the Interpol report as a "clown show" that "doesn't deserve serious comment."
  
He also said that all relations with Colombia as well as Venezuela's cooperation with Interpol would undergo "deep review."
  
Speaking to reporters, Chavez referred to Interpol's chief as "Mr. Ignoble" and called him a "mafioso ... an aggressive Yankee cop ... a bum."
  
Ecuador's Foreign Minister, Maria Isabel Salvador, said the Interpol report "has no legal value."
  
In Washington, US State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said reports on the contents of the computer indicating Venezuelan support for FARC were "highly disturbing."
  
"There are serious allegations about Venezuela supplying arms and support to a terrorist organization," he told reporters. "Certainly that has deep implications for the people of the region as well as states in the region."
  
President Alvaro Uribe of Colombia said the Interpol report was "conclusive."
  
"Everything in that computer is real. It's all out in the open," said Colombian Defense Minister Juan Manuel Santos, who along with Uribe was attending a Latin American-European Union summit in Lima.
  
Based on the computer files, Colombia has accused Chavez of funneling 300 million dollars to the rebels, and the FARC of seeking to buy 50 kilograms of uranium for weapons use.
  
Bogota said FARC's top commander, Manuel Marulanda, mentions in one document having helped Ecuadoran President Rafael Correa -- a populist, leftist leader like Chavez -- win the 2006 election.
  
The Washington Post reported Thursday that the documents showed that senior officials in Venezuela proposed helping the rebels obtain surface-to-air missiles to pursue their war against the Colombian government.
  
And last week, the Wall Street Journal also reported that 100 documents it reviewed from the computer trove describe meetings between guerrilla commanders and top Venezuelan officials including Chavez himself.
  
They show Venezuela offering to help FARC obtain "rockets" and "bazookas" from foreign suppliers and to use a Venezuelan seaport to receive them, the paper said.
  
According to Interpol, the computers contained 37,872 written documents, 452 spreadsheets, 210,888 images, 22,481 web pages, 10,537 multimedia files, 983 encrypted files, and almost 8,000 email addresses.
  
It took Interpol two weeks running 10 computers simultaneously 24 hours a day to break into the encrypted files, the agency said. It did not reveal what was discovered on the files.

Date created : 2008-05-16

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