The hacker accused of attempting to sabotage Colombia’s peace process and cause President Juan Manuel Santos to lose his re-election bid in June has gone public, accusing allies of former President Alvaro Uribe of plotting against talks with FARC rebels.
When computer engineer Andres Sepulveda was arrested in May after videos surfaced of him meeting presidential candidate Oscar Ivan Zuluaga , he initially resisted claims that he was hired by the Zuluaga campaign to shake public faith in the Havana talks. He signed a document alleging that he was being pressured to admit to false evidence against Zuluaga, Uribe, and other members of Uribe’s Democratic Center party.
But in an extensive interview with Semana magazine, Sepulveda now says that he was compelled to sign this by Inspector General Alejandro Ordoñez, an Uribe ally. Saying he has since been “abandoned” by Uribismo, Sepulveda has now turned entirely against his former employers. In the interview, he admits to illegally gathering information on the peace talks in Havana.
According to the hacker, the Zuluaga campaign explicitly gave him money to purchase sensitive data from a secret military intelligence post in Bogota that was monitoring the communications of the government negotiating team in Havana. The listening post, which was shut down in February after being discovered by public prosecutors, caused President Santos to speculate over “loose wheels” in the military plotting against the peace process.
Sepulveda claims that not only did Zuluaga’s campaign ask him to obtain the private communications of the FARC negotiators in Havana, they wanted him to dig up dirt on the Democratic Center’s political enemies. This included anyone who publicly supported the peace talks, like President Santos, Senators Ivan Cepeda and Juan Manuel Galan, and Attorney General Eduardo Montealegre.
As The Miami Herald reports, the news has struck a nerve in Colombia, with Santos calling for a full investigation into Sepulveda’s accusations, and Zuluaga and Uribe denying them wholeheartedly.
The allegations that military intelligence officers are actively colluding against the peace talks come at a particularly key moment for the peace process. The government is beginning to study the feasibility of a ceasefire, and needs the military command to be united on the issue.
Fortunately, so far things have been going well on this front. For the first time since negotiations began, a group of military leaders traveled to Havana on Friday to begin outlining a ceasefire with FARC commanders there. Yesterday, the Defense Ministry announced that General Javier Florez, head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the armed forces, would be leaving this position to head the ceasefire commission full time.
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