With the trial against the director of news website Anncol due to get underway Thursday, El Tiempo has explained that the case against the so-called “FARC ambassador” does not rest solely on the recently dismissed “Raul Reyes” files.
According to the Colombian newspaper, the country’s authorities and their international intelligence allies have long been on the trail of Joaquin Perez Becerra, alias “Alberto Martinez,” director of the pro-FARC Swedish-based news agency. El Tiempo did, however, acknowledge that it was the “Raul Reyes” files seized in the deadly 2008 Colombian raid into Ecuador that brought Perez Becerra to public light.
As far back as 1999, Colombian police investigators were tracking the steps of the Anncol director, who is said to have handled communications and contacts for the FARC in Europe.
A preventive detention at an airport in Russia, in 2001, was apparently one of the early warnings that Joaquin Perez Becerra was indeed alias “Alberto Martinez” and that he was a key operative for the FARC in their European operations.
Some 12 years of investigations, apparently accessed and reviewed by El Tiempo, allegedly illustrate Perez Becerra traveling to almost every European country seeking funding for the FARC.
In 2002 it appears that he traveled 12 times to Spain to conduct business with Spanish separatist terrorist group ETA and to succesfully secure international arms suppliers. Between 2003 and 2009 he allegedly traveled seven times a year on average to several Nordic countries and northern European nations such as Germany.
El Tiempo stated that perhaps the most incriminating evidence, also apparently documented by U.S. intelligence, are documents linking Perez Becerra to a February 23, 2000, international meeting of the FARC held in Spain, featuring several key FARC leaders such as “Raul Reyes,” “Ivan Rios,” “Fabian Ramirez, and “Simon Trinidad.”
Besides these reported meetings and trips, FARC computer devices seized before the 2008 Ecuador raid appear to contain emails between Perez Becerra’s Anncol website and the FARC leadership, detailing the “political focus” of the publications. Another email supposedly demonstrates Perez Becerra apologizing to the secretariat for the publication of something against the FARC’s wishes, containing the line that he is “only a subordinate of the FARC.”
Perez Becerra was arrested in Caracas, Venezuela, after a flight from Germany in April, before swiftly being extradited to Colombia only two days later, in a demonstration of the strengthening bilateral relations between the two neighbors. His trial begins Thursday.