A Nicaraguan military court sentenced two military officers Wedensday to 17 years in prison for helping a Colombian citizen spy on the Central American country, reported newspaper El Espectador.
The two Nicaraguan officers, Amuro Alvarez Granera and Leonidas Castillo were dishonorably discharged and tried for “revealing military secrets together with the crimes of espionage and disobedience,” according to a statement from the country’s military.
Nicaraguan authorities claimed that the Colombian, Luis Felipe Rios Castaño, was trying to obtain “restricted, reserved and classified” information about the country’s military secrets on behalf of Colombia’s Armed Forces.
Rios arrived in the country in 2010, while claiming to be a journalist covering security and military issues for a Spanish magazine.
He was arrested in the Nicaraguan capital of Managua in early June this year.
Nicaraguan Vice President Omar Halleslevens asked Thursday for a formal explanation from Colombian authorities: “We ask for explanations from the authorities of that country (Colombia)” about “what is surrounding these issues, this man and this activity,” wrote Latin American news network Univision.
Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos claimed Sunday to be unaware of the alleged spying, but nevertheless ordered an investigation into the matter.
Relations between the two countries have been strained since Nicaragua laid new claims to the Colombia‘s San Andres archipelago, located close to the Nicaraguan coast. Colombia has controlled the archipelago, which includes the islands of San Andres, Providencia and Santa Catalina, since the 1928 Esguerra-Barcenas Treaty. Nicaragua has long refuted the treaty which was put into effect while the country was under U.S. military occupation. The dispute is currently being settled at the International Court of Justice in Holland.