Judge Faces Investigation of Illegal Uribe Wiretaps

The former president of the Colombian Supreme Court of Justice (CSJ) Jose Luis Barceló, who launched the politically motivated case against former President Álvaro Uribe that led to his arbitrary arrest without charge in August, has been called to testify before a Congressional body investigating his conduct in the case.  The announcement by the Congressional Accusatory Commission revealed the probe into Barceló illegally wiretapping Uribe’s phone in 2018 after opening the case at the urging of Senator Iván Cepeda, the principal ally of the FARC in Colombia.

Barceló issued a falsified warrant to tap Uribe’s phone which the judge later claimed was a “mistake”, despite violating international standards of due process.   More than 20,000 intercepts were recorded, none of which pointed to any criminal acts by Uribe.  In violation of Article 29 of the Colombian Constitution, Barceló transferred the recordings to Uribe’s case file. The Commission announced yesterday that both investigators who intercepted Uribe’s cell phone gave sworn statements to Congress earlier this year.

International legal and human rights organizations have begun monitoring the Uribe case for its multiple violations of the former president’s human rights, as well as evidence of judicial irregularities and arbitrary arrest without charge, including the Organization of American States (OAS) and the Human Rights Institute for Peace and Freedom (HRI), which is part of the World Jurist Association.  The Inter-Parliamentary Union formally requested the cooperation of the Supreme Court, which Barceló led, to monitor the Uribe case, but the request was summarily refused.

ICYMI – Uribe Lays Out Political Vision in Wide-Ranging Interview, Profile in Financial Times

The Financial Times this morning published a profile of former President Álvaro Uribe Vélez of Colombia, which includes a wide-ranging interview on video discussing his vision for Colombia, the crisis in Venezuela and the future of the region at a critical moment in history. 

“I see a very worrying future for Venezuela and a lot of risks for Colombia,” Uribe said on the crisis next door ahead of this weekend’s legislative elections that most observers expect to be fraudulent to favor the dictatorial socialist regime of Nicolas Maduro.   

“When my generation was young, every year we’d say ‘this year the Cuban revolution will fall’ and it never fell,” Uribe said. “It stabilized and we’ve lost three generations.”  Uribe added in the video interview that “tyranny has established itself” in Venezuela.

Uribe raised concern about advances by far-left elements in Colombia gaining power and bringing disastrous consequences for the country and its economy.  The newspaper labels Gustavo Petro as a “radical leftist candidate” for Colombia’s president in 2022.

Malcom Deas, a British historian, describes to the Financial Times the “extraordinary ratings in the polls, of 70 percent and above” for Uribe as his two-terms as president ended in 2010, and that the former president has been assailed by “prolonged legal vendettas” and attacks from former President Juan Manuel Santos and others.  Uribe was arrested without charge in August of this year in a politically motivated case riddled with judicial irregularities and violations of due process, which is now being monitored by international legal and human rights organizations.  A legal guarantees judge later ordered his release, and charges still have yet to be filed.  In 2018, the Financial Times published an extensive analysis of the crushing politicization of Colombia’s courts.

“A consummate politician and communicator, Uribe is by no means a spent force,” Deas concludes in the article.

To read the profile in the print edition, click here.

To watch the video of the interview with Álvaro Uribe, click here.

U.S. Government Defends Colombian Ties Against Attacks from Cepeda

Since the day senior FARC commander Jesus Santrich was indicted by a U.S. grand jury on drug trafficking charges, Senator Ivan Cepeda, the principal ally of the FARC in Colombia, has led a crusade to protect Santrich from extradition.  A central part of Cepeda’s effort has been a relentless propaganda campaign of falsehoods aimed at severing the U.S.-Colombia partnership on fighting narco-terrorism and drug trafficking.

The disinformation provoked a rare and strongly worded response from the U.S. Embassy in Bogota, which released a statement insisting that the United States government “works in strict compliance with the laws of the United States and Colombia under the supervision of the Attorneys General of both countries.  Any statement to the contrary has no foundation and only undermines our joint efforts to fight transnational crime.”

Santrich was indicted in 2018 on evidence gathered in part from a sting operation led in part by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), which caught him red handed on videotape describing the means he had available to produce tons of cocaine and ship it illegally to the United States.  A superseding indictment in 2020 relied on broader material evidence against Santrich and widened the charges to include conspiracy to commit narco-terrorism.  He is currently a fugitive from justice, having escaped in 2019 to a FARC encampment believed to be in Venezuela.  The U.S. government has offered a $10 million reward for information leading to his capture and conviction in U.S. court.

Cepeda has publicly claimed the U.S. government is part of a vast conspiracy against Santrich in order to derail the 2016 peace agreement signed by the Colombian government and the FARC, and has insisted his efforts to aid Santrich are in support of “peace.”  In turn, Santrich released a video last week thanking Cepeda for his support, while holding a military grade machine gun and standing in a FARC terrorist camp, where he is vowing to lead FARC guerrillas in overthrowing the democratic government of Colombia by force.

Cepeda’s campaign to end the U.S.-Colombia partnership has raised alarm in Washington, particularly at a time when cocaine production in Colombia is rising again after reaching a low point at the end of the presidency of Alvaro Uribe in 2010.  Former U.S. House Chairman of the Western Hemisphere Subcommittee Connie Mack (R-FL) has publicly challenged Cepeda to explain the full nature of his collaborations and contacts with the FARC, which has been designated as a foreign terrorist organization by the U.S. government since 1997.  The direct attacks aimed at shattering the bilateral alliance come as President-elect Joe Biden has hailed the partnership’s success and called Colombia the “keystone” of his Latin America policy.

Defending Terrorists to Defend Peace: The Increasingly Bizarre Campaign by Iván Cepeda

In 2018, a federal grand jury in New York indicted senior FARC commander Jesus Santrich for conspiracy to traffic cocaine into the United States.  Colombian authorities, responding to an Interpol red alert, arrested Santrich and began extradition proceedings.  The FARC’s main ally in Colombia, Senator Iván Cepeda, immediately launched a legal and political crusade to free Santrich and shield him from being tried by a jury in the United States.  To further this campaign, Cepeda and the FARC claimed all the evidence that led to the U.S. grand jury indictment was actually an elaborate global conspiracy against the Colombian far left, rather than Santrich being caught red-handed on videotape in a sting operation by U.S. law enforcement agents.

Cepeda’s campaign ultimately gained freedom for Santrich in 2019.  The FARC commander then escaped to a terrorist camp in Venezuela, and recorded a video with his comrades to announce a resumption of war against the democratic government of Colombia.  Cepeda said he had “no regrets” in helping Santrich gain his freedom.

Now Santrich himself is raising questions around whether Cepeda also helped him escape U.S. justice.

A bombshell video was released in recent days by the Colombian Clandestine Communist Party, in which Santrich holds a military grade machine gun and calls Cepeda “brave” and thanks him for “understanding” his resumption of war and the rebuilding of the FARC as a terrorist force.

For those thinking Cepeda’s whole campaign to free Santrich was truly about some noble defense of the 2016 peace deal, that video message shattered the illusion.  Santrich’s own words validate the perception that Cepeda’s efforts to shield Santrich then and now are about obstructing U.S. justice, providing aid and support to an avowed terrorist, and promoting a political project with the FARC that intends to sever all bilateral cooperation with the United States to defeat narco-terrorism and threats to regional security.

If Cepeda “understands” a terrorist’s rationale for fleeing justice to resume war, it begs the question: What did Cepeda know and when did he know it?

Furthermore, Santrich refers to Cepeda as “brave” and a “defender of peace”. This begs yet another question: How does aiding an indicted narco-trafficker advance peace? In an effort to divert attention from him, Cepeda responded to Santrich’s comments saying he only “defends the peace process”. If that were true, what kind of peace is he defending by playing such a central role in Santrich’s eventual escape and resumption of war?

The doubts are only escalating around Cepeda’s possible legal exposure in the United States, judging purely from these mounting, spectacular revelations one after another in the Santrich case.  Now would be a good time for Cepeda to answer the questions posed by former Congressman Connie Mack in his October 22 letter, yet he remains steadfast in his conviction that he will only answer a “competent authority”. That is becoming a suspicious refrain. 

Is it because the truthful answers will incriminate him?

FARC terrorist thanks Ivan Cepeda for his support

Source: Colombian Clandestine Communist Party

FARC senior commander Jesus Santrich reappeared from hiding last week in a new video thanking Senator Ivan Cepeda, the principal ally of the FARC in Colombia, for his support and “understanding” his resumption of terrorism against Colombia’s democratic government.

Holding a military-grade assault rifle, Santrich thanked “those who believed in us, especially those who understand our determination to take up arms”. Santrich singled out Cepeda, calling the FARC ally “brave” and a “defender of peace”, in the video, released by the Colombian Clandestine Communist Party.

Cepeda’s close alliance with the FARC dates back many years. Computer hard drives confiscated during the “Operation Fenix” military offensive on the FARC in 2008, reportedly indicated that FARC commander Ivan Marquez was in communication with Cepeda coordinating political activity in the country. As the terrorist group waged a bloody war on the Colombian people, Marquez refers to Cepeda as a “partner” in the reported communications and alludes to coordinated efforts for public protests in strategic defense of the FARC’s objectives.

Cepeda led the crusade to block Santrich’s extradition to the United States after a grand jury in the Southern District of New York indicted the FARC leader for conspiring to traffic tons of narcotics to the United States. Cepeda stood up for Santrich and called the DEA operation that led to the indictment an “entrapment” to jail Santrich and derail the peace agreement, when, in reality, Santrich was caught red-handed in a sting operation that led to two separate indictments.

Cepeda’s activism ultimately led to Santrich being released from prison and later fleeing Colombia for what is believed to be the jungles of Venezuela where he and his comrades vow to overthrow the Colombian government.

Santrich’s public expression of gratitude to Cepeda only brings greater scrutiny to the Colombian senator’s possible role in the terrorist leader’s escape from justice, particularly among U.S. officials who have offered a $10 million reward for information leading to Santrich’s capture.

Mack to Cepeda: “An innocent man should have no trouble telling the truth.”

Another day, another sham legal case by Senator Iván Cepeda.  This one failed at record speed, being dismissed by a Colombian judge as “inadmissible”.  A key goal was to silence former U.S. Congressman Connie Mack (R-FL) and the Free Uribe campaign, despite both being far outside the jurisdiction of Colombian courts.  Cepeda alleged in his complaint that questions about his own statements and actions, thoroughly documented and attributed to objective sources, were somehow “intimidating” him and depriving him of his rights.  The Colombian judge found his arguments ridiculous, of course.

In response, Congressman Mack recorded a message to Cepeda:

“I am directing this message to Senator Ivan Cepeda.  I told you that your attempt to silence me would fail.  Now that your legal stunt has been thrown out by a Colombian judge, you have the opportunity to answer the nine questions I posed to you over a month ago.

  • When did you first have contact with Santrich, Marquez and the FARC?  What year was it?
  • What role, if any, did you play in their escape?
  • Have you been in contact with them since they escaped?

The American people are waiting for your answers.  An innocent man should have no trouble telling the truth.”

Cepeda’s Top FARC Ally Admits to “Execution” of Official

A new interview surfaced last week of fugitive FARC leader Jesus Santrich from a terrorist encampment likely in Venezuela, where he again admits that the 1995 murder of Colombian political leader and diplomat Álvaro Gómez Hurtado was carried out under orders of FARC high command.

“It was not an assassination,” Santrich emphasized.  “It was an execution.”

It is the second time that Santrich has admitted that the FARC murdered Gómez Hurtado as a collective act, while the FARC’s political wing in the Colombian Congress continues to claim otherwise.  As this political nightmare deepens for the terrorist organization in Colombia, their chief political ally, Senator Iván Cepeda, insists that the fugitive terrorist leader is the victim of a vast political conspiracy, led in part by the U.S. government, to “frame” Santrich. 

You read that correctly –the man who is holding a military grade machine gun in his videos, vowing to overthrow Colombia’s democratic government by force of arms, was “framed” for narco-terrorism charges that he faces in the U.S. Southern District of New York.

Santrich has said he would rather die than face a trial before a U.S. jury.  But two grand juries in New York were already shown all the evidence – he was caught red-handed engaging in drug trafficking activities, and he knows he was caught.  His escape to the jungle makes logical sense.  But the full-throated defense of Santrich by Cepeda, complete with an anti-U.S. conspiracy theory, raises a lot of questions.  

Cepeda led the public fight to prevent Santrich’s extradition on the charges in the Southern District of New York, and triumphantly escorted him from a Colombian jail after his campaign to free him succeeded.  Cepeda and Santrich both know very well that such tactics don’t work in the United States.   If the terrorist leader ever ends up in a U.S. courtroom, before a U.S. judge and an American jury, Cepeda’s manipulative tactics, using courts as political weapons, will fail disastrously.   Santrich will truly face justice.

If convicted, the FARC terrorist knows very well that the comfortable, privileged life many criminals enjoy in Colombian prisons will be out of the question in the United States. The bribes and corruption that allowed individuals like Emilio Tapia and Juan Guillermo Monsalve to have luxurious accommodations, host raucous parties with booze and live bands, and live comfortably while serving out their time are not a feature of the U.S. federal prison system.

The scheme to envelope an avowed terrorist fugitive with a false shroud of innocence is a pretty audacious act on Cepeda’s part.  To an American audience, regardless of their political views, it appears laughable.  To those who care deeply about the U.S.-Colombia partnership against narco-terrorism and for regional security in the Americas, it is alarming.

What about the U.S. indictments, Don Iván?

Source: Interpol

A leak of short excerpts from a handful of more than 24,000 recordings related to the criminal case against FARC terrorist leader Jesus Santrich appeared in the Colombian media recently, and Senator Iván Cepeda – the FARC’s principal ally in Colombia – argued these fragments prove the case was a nefarious plot that involved the U.S. government, and Santrich was somehow not a criminal. 

It isn’t the first time we’ve heard that argument.  It was what the FARC said about Santrich’s arrest in 2018.  Cepeda and the FARC are now squarely on the same page. 

Santrich was arrested by Colombian authorities in 2018 after a U.S. federal grand jury in the Southern District of New York indicted him on drug trafficking charges, in part related to a sting operation carried out by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency.  The unsealed U.S. indictment documents indicated that Santrich was recorded describing a network of clandestine Colombian laboratories that could produce and supply thousands of tons of cocaine, and a U.S.-flagged aircraft he would use to illegally transport the drugs to the United States.  That was at least part of the evidence presented to the U.S. grand jury that returned the indictment, and may or may not be related to the audios appearing in the Colombian media

Then, in 2020, a second federal grand jury in New York returned a superseding indictment of Santrich.  According to the unsealed documents, that indictment incorporated a much wider set of material evidence dating back nearly two decades, showing his central role in conspiring with the regime in Venezuela and the Cartel de los Soles to engage in drug trafficking to finance terrorist activity, including the kidnapping and murder of U.S. and Colombian officials.

The unsealed indictment documents in both grand jury decisions raised a number of very uncomfortable legal questions in the United States for Iván Cepeda, and brought greater scrutiny to him here.  One member of the U.S. Congress has contacted the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate Cepeda’s actions on U.S. soil.  Former Congressman Connie Mack (R-FL), the former chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere, posed a series of questions publicly to Cepeda about his knowledge and the nature of his possible involvement in the facts laid out against Santrich in the indictments.  Cepeda has steadfastly refused to answer any of these questions.

Instead, Cepeda and his militant supporters are desperately trying to change the subject rather than confront the reality that even the recent leaked audios squarely show Santrich engaging in criminal activity.  They claim the DEA sting operation was a “set up” yet they cannot explain the 2018 grand jury indictment, based on evidence they have not – and will never see – before Santrich is brought to trial in the United States and it is put before an American jury.  Santrich has said he would rather die than face trial in the United States.  Cepeda also refuses to address the damning material evidence in the 2020 superseding indictment, which lays out a history of narco-terrorism by Santrich over two decades, continuing up to his 2018 arrest.

So it is fair to ask Iván Cepeda another question: Were nearly two dozen average American citizens who sat on two grand juries in New York somehow part of this enormous conspiracy you are alleging?

The American people deserve an answer.

Embattled Colombian Politician Tries to Silence “Free Uribe” Campaign

Senator Iván Cepeda, the leading political ally of the FARC in Colombia, has filed a desperate petition in Colombian court to try to silence our public campaign in the United States.  We have worked to raise awareness of Cepeda’s public statements and actions in support of Jesus Santrich and Iván Marquez, leaders of the terrorist FARC organization who are wanted by U.S. authorities for narco-terrorism and face criminal indictments before the U.S. Southern District of New York.

The following statement is attributed to The Honorable Connie Mack, former chairman of the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere:

“Senator Iván Cepeda cannot silence a former member of the U.S. Congress from posing legitimate questions of grave concern to the people of the United States. 

Cepeda’s panicked attempt to silence me speaks for itself.

In every question I have posed to him, I cited public documents from the U.S. judiciary, independent news organizations, and public statements made by Senator Cepeda himself.  I also cited public statements by FARC terrorist guerrillas Jesus Santrich and Ivan Marquez, who are fugitives under U.S. criminal indictment and have declared themselves to be at war with the democratic government of Colombia. 

Senator Cepeda, here are the objective facts:

  • The FARC has been listed as a terrorist organization by the U.S. State Department since 1997. 
  • Santrich and Marquez are under criminal indictment in the Southern District of New York by two separate federal grand juries made up of ordinary American citizens for conspiracy to commit narco-terrorism with the FARC from the 1990s until the present day. 
  • You played a central, public role in assisting Santrich in avoiding extradition to the United States, something you have publicly said you did not regret.  Your words and your actions, not mine.
  • I have publicly posed objective questions directly to you about your association with these individuals and with the FARC.   You have had ample time and space to reply in a public manner.
  • You have said that my questions posed directly to you in a public manner were somehow meant to intimidate you.  How could they be intimidating unless the answers might put you in serious legal jeopardy?

In the view of many, you have used Colombia’s courts as a weapon against anyone who attempts to publicly hold you to account.  You should understand that such tactics will not work in the United States of America. 

You appear to be desperate to silence me and to change the subject, but you can’t change the facts. 

Your reaction only convinces me that I have come too close to the truth.”

The full text of Iván Cepeda’s desperate petition to silence our questions on his public actions and statements related to fugitive terrorist leaders of the FARC.

Former Chairman Connie Mack Records Message to Cepeda: “What Do You Have to Hide?”

The Honorable Connie Mack (R-FL), the former chairman of the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere, recorded a message to Colombian Senator Iván Cepeda, urging that he answer the questions being raised in the United States about the full nature of his involvement with several individuals under criminal indictment in the Southern District of New York:

“It has been 18 days since I wrote to Senator Iván Cepeda of Colombia to ask him nine questions that are easy for him to answer.    Colombia is a very important partner of the United States and the fight against terrorism and drug trafficking has been a matter of national security for Democrats and Republicans in our government for decades.

So I direct this message to Senator Cepeda.

  • Many of your top political allies are under criminal indictment in the United States for crimes against the American people, and are fugitives from justice. 
  • They have pledged to bring down the democratic government of Colombia. 
  • You have joined them in seeking to end the U.S.-Colombian partnership to combat narco-terrorism.
  • You played a central role in events which led to their escape from justice.
  • The FARC is listed as a terrorist organization by the U.S. government.
  • Members of the U.S. Congress have begun to investigate your actions on these matters, and actions you took on U.S. soil.

The only response you have given so far is to say you will only answer to what you call competent authorities.

So I ask you:

  • Is Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart a competent authority?
  • Is Congressman Francis Rooney a competent authority?
  • Is the Southern District of New York a competent authority?
  • Who is the competent authority you’re waiting to hear from?
  • Are you telling us that you’re just waiting to be indicted?

I am urging you, Senator Cepeda, to answer these important questions.  If you want to contribute to the strong partnership between the United States and Colombia, then clear up these doubts about your actions.  Tell us the full history of your association with the FARC.  Clarify your role, if any, in the escape of Santrich and Marquez. 

If you’re an innocent man, then what do you have to hide?”