In the midst of a major wiretapping scandal, Colombia’s largest newspaper El Tiempo is stepping up its reporting on unconfirmed conspiracy theories based on “military intelligence.”
The newspaper on Tuesday reported that the country’s last-standing guerrilla group ELN is seeking to “delegitimize Defense Minister Carlos Holmes Trujillo for his stance against Venezuela when he was foreign minister,” initially citing a military intelligence report from December.
According to El Tiempo, the military was able to intercept telephone conversations of ELN commander “Pablito.”
…and an assassination plot, why not?
In the same article, El Tiempo reported that “the sources” claimed there was “a plan that would put the official’s security at risk.”
Trujillo took to the press to dramatically claim that “the life of my family and myself are in the hands of God,” which he immediately published on Twitter.
I will continue to work in compliance with the policy of President Ivan Duque, fighting the ELN, terrorism and crime.
Defense Minister Carlos Holmes Trujillo
“What?” The president’s office on international cooperation responded in a tweet. The presumably accidental response was later deleted.
Trujillo, a dynasty politician, has been under fire almost constantly without apparent interference of the ELN.
El Tiempo’s former director, Francisco Santos, resigned earlier this month as Colombia’s ambassador to Washington DC after he was recorded saying that Trujillo “did nothing. He had no strategy.”
Foreign Minister Claudia Blum reportedly called Trujillo “a disaster” in that same conversation.
Before that, the defense minister had already undermined his own credibility by informing the Organization of American States on a conspiracy theory claiming Venezuela’s government had ties to the ELN based on evidence that was fabricated.
El Tiempo and its sources
The defense minister is under fire because he reportedly tried to stop a raid on military intelligence units in December after a tip they were illegally spying on the Supreme Court.
On Saturday, the newspaper of Duque’s financial patron Grupo Aval reported “military intelligence” sources claiming that the ELN was tied to Lebanese armed group Hezbollah.
This conspiracy theory contradicts the United States’ Drug Enforcement Administration that has claimed Hezbollah is tied to the “Oficina de Envigado,” the Medellin crime syndicate that has been tied to the military for decades.
El Tiempo has a history of publishing stories based on anonymous government or military sources that later proved to be inaccurate.