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12 March 2008 - Media release

INTERPOL asserts neutrality in seized FARC computer evidence probe in Colombia

BOGOTA, Colombia – An agreement underlining the neutrality and independence of the team of experts deployed by INTERPOL to Bogota to examine computers seized by Colombia's National Police in a recent operation targeting FARC has been signed by Colombia's heads of law enforcement and INTERPOL.

The arrival of INTERPOL's six-person team, led by Secretary General Ronald K. Noble, followed a request by Maria del Pilar Hurtado Afanador, Director of Colombia’s Departamento Administrativo de Seguridad (DAS) and Brigadier General Oscar Adolfo Naranjo Trujillo, the Director General of the Colombian National Police, both of whom signed the agreement on behalf of Colombia.

During his mission to Bogota, Mr Noble met with Colombian President Alvaro Uribe Vélez, Secretary General José Miguel Insulza of the Organization of American States (OAS) and his delegation, as well as with senior government officials from Colombia.

“Only INTERPOL has the capability of responding quickly and comprehensively to provide the international community with an independent, expert and objective examination of evidence such as that seized by Colombia on 1 March,” said Secretary General Noble.

“INTERPOL's technical assistance and expertise in determining the actual content of the seized computers and whether that data had been altered, added or deleted was requested not only by our member country Colombia, but also by the Organization of American States because INTERPOL can be trusted to remain objective and to produce the highest quality work.”

Within days of receiving Colombia’s request for assistance, INTERPOL had assembled and deployed an international team, including experts from Australia, Singapore and the General Secretariat headquarters in Lyon to work on the ground as an independent INTERPOL unit.

“The strength of INTERPOL is that it can call on any of its 186 member countries to provide the necessary expertise on any given matter,” added Mr Noble.

Secretary General Noble also thanked the Commissioners of Police for Singapore and Australia for providing computer forensic experts who will examine the seized computers and discs.

INTERPOL’s intervention in Colombia, consistent with UN Security Council Resolution 1373, follows other recent assistance and support in sensitive enquiries, including the UN Oil for food scandal and the ongoing investigation into the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

“INTERPOL has no stake in the outcome of any findings during the current investigation in Colombia,” said Mr Noble. “Our role here is to provide independent, expert and objective police support which has been accepted by the Colombian authorities. I have offered to meet with our law enforcement counterparts in both Ecuador and Venezuela as well.”

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