BOGOTA - Interpol said yesterday 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.
President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela denounced the report as "ridiculous," saying a "show of clowns" surrounded the announcement. But the findings are expected to increase pressure on Chávez to explain his relationship with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC.
More revelations are likely to emerge, since 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."
Chávez called Noble "a tremendous actor" and an "immoral police officer who applauds killers."
"Do you think we should waste time here on something so ridiculous?" Chávez asked a journalist.
He denies arming or funding the FARC, though he openly sympathizes with Latin America's most powerful rebel army.
Colombian commandos recovered the three
Interpol addressed Chávez's charges that no computer could have survived the bombardment by showing photographs of metal cases that protected them during the raid.
"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 when 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.
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 did not 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 who do not read Spanish.
A Colombian antiterrorism 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 specialists about the episode and Noble praised their professionalism.