Ecuador says CIA infiltrated its military
QUITO (AFP) – The US Central Intelligence Agency had "full knowledge" of the deadly Colombian raid March 1 on a FARC rebel camp inside Ecuador that led to a rupture in ties between Bogota and Quito, Ecuador's Defense Minister Javier Ponce said.
The CIA "had full knowledge of what was happening in Angostura," the border area in Ecuador where the attack took place, Ponce said while presenting the results of an official investigation into the suspected infiltration of Ecuador's armed forces by US intelligence agents.
Investigators "even detected a call by the CIA on the morning of March 1 announcing the attack in Angostura," the minister added.
Authorities suspected that the incursion -- decried by the Organization of American States as a Colombian "premeditated violation" of Ecuadoran sovereignty -- relied on support from a US aircraft assigned to joint US-Ecuador anti-drug missions from a US Former Operating Location (FOL) in Manta, Ecuador, he said.
"The main doubt is about the activities of a US intelligence aircraft which surprisingly arrived at FOL Manta one week before the attack.... The arrival of this plane marked the beginning of night flights that had not been normally undertaken from the FOL," Ponce said.
The same aircraft "permanently withdrew from the base" four days after the raid, he added.
In April, Ecuador's leftist President Rafael Correa sacked his defense minister and police chief after alleging the CIA had infiltrated his country's security apparatus to help US ally Colombia.
The raid on the camp of the Marxist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) killed more than 20 people, including FARC's number-two guerrilla Raul Reyes, four Mexicans and an Ecuadoran.
A diplomatic stand-off quickly ensued, with Quito expelling Bogota's ambassador on March 3 and both sides ordering thousands of troops to their common border.
While military tensions have eased, diplomatic relations between the neighbors have yet to be normalized.
The FARC is Latin America's oldest and most powerful insurgency, and has been trying to topple the Bogota government since the 1960s.