Skip to comments.INTERPOL releases forensic report requested by Colombia on seized FARC computers and hardware
Posted on 05/15/2008 7:12:58 PM PDT by Candor7
BOGOTA, Colombia - INTERPOL today presented the results of its forensic examination of eight seized FARC computer and hardware exhibits following a request for assistance in March of this year by Colombia, one of INTERPOL's 186 member countries.
INTERPOL Secretary General Ronald K. Noble advised senior Colombian law enforcement officials that INTERPOL's team of forensic experts discovered 'no evidence of modification, alteration, addition or deletion' in the user files of any of the three laptop computers, three USB thumb drives and two external hard disks seized during a Colombian anti-narcotics and anti-terrorist operation on a FARC camp on 1 March 2008.
'Based on our careful and comprehensive forensic examination of each of the eight seized FARC computer exhibits and on consideration of all the evidence reviewed by our experts, INTERPOL concludes that there was no tampering with any data on the computer exhibits following their seizure on 1 March 2008 by Colombian authorities,' said Secretary General Noble.
Other key findings confirm that the Colombian Judicial Police computer forensic experts followed internationally recognized principles in the handling of electronic evidence from the time they received the exhibits on 3 March 2008. However, between 1 and 3 March, direct access to the seized computer exhibits by Colombia's first responder anti-terrorist unit in order to view and download their contents did not follow internationally recognized principles in the handling of electronic evidence under ordinary circumstances. INTERPOL's experts verified that this direct access and downloading had no effect on the content of any of the user files on the eight seized computer exhibits.
'It is all too common in law enforcement operations worldwide for first responder police units to directly access seized electronic evidence rather than make write-protected copies. Anti-terrorist units in particular think about getting to and analyzing the evidence right away to prevent that next attack. One of INTERPOL's three recommendations proposes that police devote more time and resources to training first responders in order to limit those situations for example when first responders are faced with the choice of either directly accessing the seized evidence or risking a terrorist attack,' added Secretary General Noble.
INTERPOL's report also emphasized that the remit of its technical examination was not to evaluate the accuracy or the source of the exhibits content.
Using sophisticated forensic tools, INTERPOL's experts determined that the eight seized computer exhibits contained more than 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.
In non-technical terms, this volume of data would correspond to 39.5 million filled pages in Microsoft Word and, if all of the seized data were in Word format, it would take more than 1,000 years to read at a rate of 100 pages per day. To break the 983 encrypted files, INTERPOL's experts linked and ran 10 computers simultaneously 24 hours a day / 7 days a week for two weeks.
'INTERPOL's technical assistance in this inquiry was requested because of its unique capacity as the world's largest police organization to provide independent, objective and expert analysis to any one of its 186 member countries - and this is what it has clearly demonstrated throughout this inquiry,' said Mr. Noble.
'INTERPOL's involvement at the express request of one of its member countries has shown it can draw on the best resources and expertise worldwide to serve national and international law enforcement needs.'
In early March, Secretary General Noble also offered to meet with Ecuadorian and Venezuelan law enforcement authorities with regard to this matter, an offer which was repeated in April when he met with the heads of the INTERPOL National Central Bureaus from Bogota, Quito and Caracas - the first such meeting involving law enforcement officials from all three countries since the seizure of the FARC computers and hardware.
'At no stage has INTERPOL had any stake in the outcome of the findings except to determine and report on the truth. As made clear in the report made public today, INTERPOL's computer forensic assistance was endorsed by the Organization of American States and not objected to by any of its 186 member countries,' said Secretary General Noble.
In addition to its ongoing global initiatives in the war on terrorism and traditional transnational crime, INTERPOL has often been called upon to provide expertise in other sensitive inquiries, including the UN Oil-for-food scandal and the ongoing investigation into the assassination of former Lebanese premier Rafik Hariri in 2005
Interpol: Colombia has real rebel data
Interpol's Secretary General Ronald Noble speaks at a press conference in Bogota, Thursday, May 15, 2008. Noble said Interpol found no evidence of tampering in computers Colombia says it seized from slain rebel Raul Reyes, of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC. Fernando VergaraBy FRANK BAJAK and JOHN LEICESTER (Associated Press Writers) From Associated Press May 15, 2008 8:23 PM EDT BOGOTA, Colombia - Interpol said Thursday that computer files suggesting Venezuela was arming and financing Colombian guerrillas came from a rebel camp and were not tampered with, discrediting Venezuela's assertions that Colombia faked them.
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez denounced the Interpol verdict as "ridiculous," saying a "clown show" surrounded the announcement. But the findings are sure to increase pressure on Chavez to explain his ties to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC.
More revelations are likely to emerge, as Interpol also turned over to Colombia 983 files it decrypted.
"We are absolutely certain that the computer exhibits that our experts examined came from a FARC terrorist camp," said Interpol's secretary general, Ronald Noble, adding: "No one can ever question whether or not the Colombian government tampered with the seized FARC computers."
Chavez did just that, calling Noble "a tremendous actor" and an "immoral police officer who applauds killers."
"Do you think we should waste time here on something so ridiculous?" Chavez told reporters. He denies arming or funding the FARC, though he openly sympathizes with Latin America's most powerful rebel army.
Colombian commandos recovered the three Toshiba Satellite laptop computers, two external hard drives and three USB memory sticks in a March 1 cross-border raid into Ecuador that killed FARC foreign minister Raul Reyes and 24 others.
Interpol addressed Chavez charges that no computer could have survived the bombardment, showing photographs in the report and video on its Web site of metal cases that protected them from Colombian bombs.
"Mr. Reyes is now dead. But they were definitely his computers, his disks, his hardware," Noble said.
The Interpol study was done at Colombia's request, and Colombia got a major bonus: Interpol ran 10 computers nonstop for two weeks to crack the encrypted files. Noble said it was up to Colombia to decide whether to make their contents public. Interpol also gave Colombia a separate confidential report for use in criminal investigations.
President Alvaro Uribe expressed satisfaction with the results.
"The only thing Colombia wants is that the terrorism we have so suffered does not affect our brother countries," he said Thursday night in Peru after arriving for a summit at which Chavez was also expected. Terrorism doesn't have borders or ethics."
He refused to answer reporters' question about whether the Interpol report's findings would further damage relations with Venezuela.
The 39-page public forensic report by the France-based international police agency concluded Colombian authorities did not always follow internationally accepted methods for handling computer evidence, but said that didn't taint the data.
Interpol said it reviewed 610 gigabytes of data including 210,888 images, 37,872 written documents, 22,481 Web pages, 10,537 sound and video files, 7,989 e-mail addresses and 452 spreadsheets.
Interpol limited itself to verifying whether Colombia altered the files and correctly handled the evidence, but did not address the contents of the documents, even making a point to use two forensic experts - from Australia and Singapore - who do not read Spanish.
A Colombian anti-terrorism officer accessed the computers before they were handed over to Interpol, leaving multiple traces in operating system files, which Noble said runs against internationally accepted protocol. But Colombian authorities properly told Interpol's experts about the episode and Noble praised their professionalism.
Noble said he tried to get Chavez and Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa, whom the documents also link to the FARC, to work with Interpol in its investigation, but neither responded.
"I've done everything in my power to invite Venezuela and Ecuador to participate," said Noble, a former U.S. Treasury enforcement chief in his second term heading the 186-member police organization.
Colombia has been leaking details from the documents since the day after the raid. The most damning evidence against Chavez was revealed to The Associated Press last week by a senior Colombian official.
More than a dozen rebel messages detail close cooperation with Venezuela, including rebel training facilities on Venezuelan soil and a meeting inside Venezuela's equivalent of the Pentagon. They suggest Venezuela wanted to loan the rebels US$250 million (euro190 million) and help them get Russian weapons and possibly even surface-to-air missiles.
"They are serious allegations about Venezuela supplying arms and support to a terrorist organization," U.S. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said in Washington. "Certainly, that has deep implications for the people of the region."
Some U.S. Republicans renewed calls Thursday for the State Department to add Venezuela to its list of state terror sponsors, which would prompt economic sanctions against a key U.S. oil supplier.
John Leicester contributed to this report from Paris.
Yeah, Hugo. That "clown show" is your regime, except no one's laughing.
This will become extremely important as the weeks wear on.
Didn’t the files also have Democrat Party operatives talking to the FARC? This could be very, very bad news for Pelosi and Company.
LOL at your tagline.
It may be why they're so sensitive when accused of wanting to negotiate with terrorists. Wall Street Journal March 25:
A hard drive recovered from the computer of a killed Colombian guerrilla has offered more insights into the opposition of House Democrats to the U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement.
The Reyes hard drive reveals an ardent effort to do business directly with the FARC by Congressman James McGovern (D., Mass.), a leading opponent of the free-trade deal. Mr. McGovern has been working with an American go-between, who has been offering the rebels help in undermining Colombia's elected and popular government.
Right. That’s it. Now to tie-in the leaders of the Democrat Party to include Clinton and Obama. Obviously Pelosi is involved because of her hands-on scuttling of anything having to do with Columbia. Seems to me she is desperate to drive the democratically elected government of Columbia out and have the FARC takeover.
But I doubt she can do it on her own as she just isn’t that swift.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.