Interpol Says it Found No Evidence of Tampering with Colombian Rebels' Computers

In a widely anticipated press conference, Interpol Secretary General
Ronald K. Noble said that the computer files found in a raid of a
Colombian rebel camp in Ecuador last March 1st discovered no tampering
of these. Venezuela’s Embassy in the U.S., though, says that the interpretation of these files has been manipulated by the Colombian and
U.S. governments, even if the files themselves have not been altered.

By Gregory Wilpert - Venezuelanalysis.com
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May 15, 2008 (venezuelanalysis.com)—In a widely anticipated press conference, Interpol Secretary General Ronald K. Noble said that the computer files found in a raid of a Colombian rebel camp in Ecuador last March 1st discovered no tampering of these. Venezuela’s Embassy in the U.S., though, said that the interpretation of these files has been manipulated by the Colombian and U.S. governments, even if the files themselves have not been altered.

Noble said during his press conference in Bogotá, Colombia, that “no evidence of modification, alteration, addition or deletion” was found in the user files of any of the three laptop computers, three USB thumb drives and two external hard disks of that the Colombian government had turned over to the International Police Organization for examination.

However, between March 1 and March 3, when the material was in the hands of Colombia’s anti-terrorist unit accessed the data 48,555 times without following “international principles in the handling of electronic evidence.” Still, according to Noble, this retrieval of data did not result in any modification of the data.

Noble clarified also that it was not Interpol’s assignment to evaluate the veracity of the data, only to verify whether it had been tampered with in any way.

The examination was very time consuming, according to Noble, because it involved the examination of over 600 gigabytes of data, including 37,872 written documents, 452 spreadsheets, 210,888 images, 22,481 web pages, 7,989 email addresses, 10,537 multimedia files (sound and video), and 983 encrypted files.

To examine so much data, Interpol linked and ran 10 computers simultaneously and continuously, 24 hours a day, for two weeks.

In the days and weeks following the raid, the Colombian government released a handful of these files to the public and to selected media outlets, claiming that these proved extensive Venezuelan government support for the Colombian rebel group.

Venezuela’s Embassy in the U.S. released a statement shortly after the press conference, stating that the Embassy “would like to warn the international community with regards to the serious manipulation that a number of political sectors and news outlets have spread due to the report issued by INTERPOL…”

The statement goes on to emphasize that the verification that files have not been tampered with—which is what Interpol was assigned to do—is one thing, while interpreting and verifying the truthfulness of the documents themselves is something quite different.

According to the Embassy, the Colombian and U.S. governments have “spread the most reckless and irresponsible accusations against the government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.”

The most common accusations against the Chavez government since the release of isolated documents to the public and to individual media outlets have been that the Venezuelan government provided material support to the FARC, such as money, weapons, and ammunition.

The Chavez government has repeatedly denied that these accusations have any basis in reality.

Adam Isacson of the Center for International Policy, who also studied the released files says that, “When considered in chronological order, the guerrilla communications regarding Hugo Chávez and Venezuela appear to reveal a relationship that was cordial but distant until the fall of 2007,” and do not prove that the Venezuelan government provided material support to the FARC.

The Embassy’s statement concludes by saying that the current campaign against Venezuela “closely resembles the steps usually taken by the Bush administration in order to generate - even without any proofs - instability and wars in other countries.”