Joaquin Perez Becerra was convicted of aggravated conspiracy at his trial in Bogota where the court found the journalist had promoted the ideology of the illegal armed guerrilla group and was also a player in its framework of international relations. The judgement however, absolved the journalist of financing terrorism.
Perez was seized by Venezuelan authorities at an airport in 2011 after an Interpol red notice alert was issued against him for his ties to the FARC.
The Colombian-born Swedish citizen had previously filed for a mistrial, after evidence against him was deemed inadmissible in a separate case against a FARC member.
Up to 800 incriminating emails suggesting that Perez coordinated his articles with the rebel group were taken from the computer of slain FARC commander Raul Reyes, which was seized in a military offensive in Ecuador. The Supreme Court ruled the army officials had not been authorized to gather evidence in another country.
In one email on the dead leader’s computer the editor apologized to the FARC for publishing information the guerrilla commanders did not like saying he was “only a subordinate of FARC.”
The mistrial was denied however, as Colombian police had been amassing evidence against Perez well before the 2008 offensive. According to the media, Perez traveled to Europe 12 times in 2002 alone to fund-raise for the FARC, causing authorities to accuse the editor of being the “ringleader” of the FARC’s international front in Europe.
During his trial Perez insisted that he was only a reporter and no evidence existed of his links to the armed guerrilla group. However, photos of him in FARC camps were published, including one in which he was dressed in camouflage and holding a rifle.
According to the judgement, the prosecution demonstrated Perez’ links with the FARC throughout the trial and showed that he had belonged to the international front of the guerrilla group. However there was not enough evidence to prove without doubt that he had financed terrorism.
In the final hearing the Prosecutor General filed an appeal for Perez to be retried for financing terrorism, arguing that sufficient documentary and testimonial evidence existed to convict him.