Andres Felipe Arias, former minister of agriculture in Colombia, has reportedly been given asylum in the United States, according to political allies in the conservative opposition.
Various political figures from the Democratic Center took to Twitter on Monday to announce the news, including representative Maria Cabal and the former director of the Democratic Center, Alicia Arango.
The Democratic Center, the party formed by former President Alvaro Uribe in opposition to the administration of President Juan Manuel Santos, has yet to publicly acknowledge Arias’ asylum in the US despite the allegations voiced by their members.
Arias (Conservative Party) was sentenced last year to 17 years in prison for his involvement in the scandal surrounding the “Agro Ingreso Seguro” embezzlement scandal, wherein he was discovered to have steered agricultural subsidies to wealthy families instead of poor farmers.
Formerly a rising star within the Colombia political environment, having been offered an ambassadorship by President Juan Manuel Santos after his election in 2010, he was disgraced after both the Office of the Inspector General and the Supreme Court of Colombia found him guilty of misallocating funds.
In June of 2014 he evaded his security escort and fled the country with his family, having been sighted in Florida.
The Colombian government subsequently said it would ask Interpol to seek Arias’ arrest so that he can serve his sentence in prison.
The United States embassy in Bogota told Colombia Reports it could neither confirm nor deny questions about Arias’ alleged asylum due to the confidentiality of such procedures.
Arias and his political allies have long claimed he is a victim of political persecution.