A man was arrested in Colombia for intercepting pivotal correspondence between the terror group Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia and the Colombian government in an alleged attempt to sabotage peace talks and sell information on the black market.
According to the BBC, the Colombian government announced that they found an office from which the suspect, Andrés Fernando Sepúlveda Ardila, would listen in to conversations between government officials and FARC representatives, as well as read emails between representatives of the two parties.
“This office intercepted emails from the press chief of the FARC in Havana, an institutional email from the national government, and two emails from Cuban journalists who are covering the peace process in Havana,” according to Colombian Attorney General Eduardo Montealegre. The office also “probably” intercepted emails by President Juan Manuel Santos, though law enforcement continues to seek more evidence that those emails were, in fact, intercepted.
Infobae reports that Sepúlveda is being held on four charges, including intercepting information data and espionage. Their report adds that Montealegre described Sepúlveda as “a person who negotiates and sells this type of information in the market–we have to establish to whom he sold this information and who might have acquired it.” Possible buyers include enemies of President Santos who would be interested in the content of his private correspondence and members of the FARC operating within Colombia. (Many leaders are exiled in Cuba, where the state protects them from extradition for their terrorist acts.)
Sepúlveda also had another important job: adviser to presidential candidate Ivan Zuluaga. Zuluaga is challenging President Santos’ reelection bid. The Wall Street Journal notes that Zuluaga has distanced himself from Sepúlveda and said in a statement, “If Mr. Sepúlveda did what he’s being accused of, then he must pay for it.”
The discovery of this criminal espionage syndicate represents a significant national security breach for the nation, whose attempts to eradicate the Cuban-sponsored FARC stretch well into decades.
The potential discovery of content from emails written by President Santos also comes at a sensitive time. Santos is currently running for reelection and fending off a scandal involving his former campaign manager, Juan José Rendón, who is being accused of accepting $12 million during talks with drug cartels. Rendón, who is Venezuelan and widely reviled by the socialist Venezuelan government, denied accepting money or committing any wrongdoing, and he argued that any negotiations with drug cartel kingpins to secure their surrender to law enforcement were done “transparently.” Venezuela’s president of the National Assembly Diosdado Cabello has called on the Venezuelan government to conduct a deeper investigation into the matter, with potential for extradition.