Correa: Video Linking Him to Rebels 'A Sham'

Ecuador's President Rafael Correa on
Saturday dismissed as a "sham" a newly released video in which a
Colombian rebel commander discusses contributing dollars to
Correa's 2006 election campaign.

The video, whose existence was revealed by The Associated Press
on Friday, appears to dispel any doubts that the leftist
Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia contributed to the Correa
campaign.

It does not, however, prove that Correa himself knew about such
aid.

In his weekly Saturday radio program, Correa said he "nothing
to do with the FARC" and he said the video's release was part of a
campaign by the political right "with all its instruments and
arms, among them the news media, to destabilize the region's
progressive governments."

"It's all a sham to damage the image of the country and the
image of the government," he said.

But he later seemed to leave open some chance the video might be
genuine: "First it has to be seen if the video is true. According
to the FARC it is a crude sham."

Correa said that a government-backed commission probing
Colombia's March 2008 attack on a FARC camp just inside Ecuador
should also analyze what he termed "the idiocy" of supposed rebel
contributions to his 2006 presidential campaign.

He said the commission, which includes academics and religious
leaders, could report "if we have ever had any contact with the
FARC."

"I personally don't know anyone in the FARC,": Correa said.

The AP obtained the video exclusively Thursday from a Colombian
government official on condition of anonymity because of the
political sensitivity. A senior Colombian prosecutor, Hermes
Ardila, said it was found in one of three computers in the
possession of Adela Perez, an alleged rebel operative arrested in
Bogota on May 30 and decrypted on July 10.

The video shows the FARC's No. 2 commander, Jorge Briceno,
reading from the deathbed manifesto of the rebels' founding leader,
Manuel "Sureshot" Marulanda, who died on March 26, 2008.

The manifesto laments that Colombian troops had seized
electronic documents that badly compromised the rebels and their
foreign friends - namely, Correa and President Hugo Chavez of
Venezuela.

Correa has accused Colombia of fabricating the documents, though
an investigation by the global police agency Interpol determined
they were not altered.

Briceno's extensive mention of the documents in the video
supports Interpol's conclusion.

Among those secrets is "assistance in dollars to Correa's
campaign and subsequent conversations with his emissaries," the
letter said. It mentions "some agreements, according to documents
in the possession of all of us, that are very compromising
regarding our ties with friends."

On Saturday, former Ecuadorean President Lucio Gutierrez
demanded that Correa resign over the video.

Ecuador broke diplomatic ties with Colombia over the raid, in
which the FARC's foreign minister, Raul Reyes, was slain along with
24 other people.

Despite the revelations, Correa was re-elected in April by a
comfortable margin.


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