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Thursday, June 12, 2008

President Rafael Correa of Ecuador: computers seized by Colombians prove 'nothing'

IHT, May 14 2008

PARIS: Ecuador's President Rafael Correa insisted Wednesday that documents on computers seized by Colombian authorities and allegedly linking him to Colombian rebels prove "absolutely nothing."

Speaking in Paris, Correa cast doubt on the authenticity of the computers, suggesting they may have been planted by the Colombians following their March 1 raid on a rebel camp in Ecuador.

Colombian officials have said the documents show links between the rebel Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, and the leaders of neighboring Venezuela and Ecuador. Colombian President Alvaro Uribe has said they show that FARC helped fund Correa's 2006 electoral campaign.

Interpol has examined the seized laptops and is expected to announce the results of its examination in Colombia on Thursday.

The computers "prove absolutely nothing," Correa told a news conference. "We have information that the Colombian government had the computers for some time and prepared all this."

But he added that, even if the computers belonged to the rebels, the information would amount to nothing more than uninformed talk between FARC members.

"I didn't receive even 20 cents from the FARC or from any illegitimate source," he said.

Correa reiterated his call for an immediate and unconditional release of civilian hostages held by FARC.

He said he was "optimistic" about the prospects for the liberation of Ingrid Betancourt, a dual French-Colombian national who was kidnapped while campaigning for the Colombian presidency six years ago.

Betancourt is one of hundreds of hostages held by FARC; others include Ecuadorean and American citizens. During his two-day stay in Paris, Correa met with members of the Betancourt family.

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