March 03, 2008
BOGOTA, Colombia -- Documents from a computer seized where Colombian commandos killed a senior rebel leader indicate Ecuador's president is deepening relations with Colombia's main guerrilla group, Colombia's police commander said Sunday.
The two documents, copies of which were obtained independently by The Associated Press, were apparently written by the slain rebel commander, Raul Reyes, in the past two months. They are addressed to the high command of his insurgency, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC.
An Ecuadorean government spokesman called the Colombian claims a lie.
Reyes, 59, was killed early Saturday in a raid at a rebel camp just inside Ecuadorean territory. He was the FARC's public voice and represented it before foreign governments, journalists and other emissaries.
The incursion prompted Eduador's leftist president, Rafael Correa, to order troops to the Colombian border and recall his ambassador from Bogota. Venezuela's leader, Hugo Chavez, announced he was dispatching tanks and thousands of troops to the Colombian border.
"These documents raise the question of what the relation of Ecuador's government is with a terrorist organization," Gen. Oscar Naranjo, the Colombian police commander, told a late-night news conference.
Naranjo said that the documents show without a doubt that Reyes "was developing an agenda with Ecuador." He said Colombia would demand an explanation of Correa for a relationship with the FARC that "in our opinion affects Colombia's national security."
A spokesman for Ecuador's internal security ministry, Edmundo Carrera, accused Naranjo of lying.
"They're trying to cover up what they've done," he told the AP.
One of the documents, a word-processing file dated Jan. 18, said Reyes had met with Ecuador's minister of internal security, Gustavo Larrea, and the two had discussed Correa's "interest in making official relations with the FARC."
It did not specify a date or location for the meeting.
The document says Correa is prepared to make changes in his military leadership, that he refuses to back Colombia in its condemnation of the FARC and that the Ecuadorean president wants to get involved in efforts to secure a prisoner swap between the FARC and the Colombian government. Chavez was leading that effort until Uribe tried to cut him off in November.
It says Ecuador's government considers Uribe "a danger to the region" and says Ecuador would like it if the FARC released one of its hostages _ a soldier named Pablo Moncayo who the FARC has held for a decade. Correa would then "provide protection to one of ours" would presumably represents the FARC before Ecuador's government.
Photocopies of the documents were provided to the AP by a senior member of Colombia's security forces, on condition he not be further identified because of their sensitivity.
The official said three notebook computers were found during Saturday's raid and that they contained a wealth of documents that Colombian authorities were only beginning to examine. He said U.S. assistance would be sought in analyzing them.
The official said he did not know whether any of the information in the computers was encrypted.
The other document, dated Feb. 28, says a Correa emissary, in a recent meeting, would like a personal meeting with FARC leaders in Quito, guaranteeing transport and security for them.
The January document says Correa will cancel next year permission for U.S. surveillance planes to use a base at Manta, Ecuador, something he has already announced.
U.S. officials have said they are considering locating such a base in Colombia. The Manta lease runs out next year.
Associated Press writer Gonzalo Solano in Quito, Ecuador, contributed to this report