MANAGUA – Nicaragua has accused Colombia of sending a spy to obtain classified information about the Central American country for its armed forces.
Inspector General Armando Juarez said at a press conference Friday that “convincing evidence” has been gathered about the activities of Colombian Luis Felipe Rios Castaño, whom the Attorney General’s Office charged Thursday with espionage.
Rios Castaño’s purpose was to obtain and gather “restricted, reserved and classified” army information and transmit it to the general command of the Colombian armed forces, Juarez said.
The purported spy, who has been jailed and is scheduled to appear in court for an initial hearing on June 26, could face up to eight years in prison,
The alleged spying “is not a peaceful action. It’s not an action that would be expected between fraternal nations or between governments that have legal relations,” Juarez said.
Nicaragua’s army chief, Gen. Julio Cesar Aviles, said the espionage case comes at a time when the two countries are awaiting a ruling by The Hague, Netherlands-based International Court of Justice in a maritime dispute.
Nicaragua filed a complaint against the South American country in 2001 before the ICJ, claiming territorial rights over Colombia’s San Andres, Providencia and Santa Catalina archipelago and other islands and asking the court to redraw the nations’ maritime border.
The Nicaraguan army says the alleged spying occurred between July 2011 and June of this year and that Rios Castaño recruited two Nicaraguan army officers who have been discharged and will be tried in military court for treason.
According to the AG’s office, the soldiers received money transfers of up to $29,000 sent from Colombia via Western Union.
Military intelligence services said Rios Castaño entered Nicaragua in late 2010 and claimed to be a correspondent for a Spanish magazine covering security and defense issues, adding that since then he has “carried out work against (Nicaraguan) security.”
The Nicaraguan army first detected the alleged spying in August and on Tuesday authorities arrested the suspect at a home he was renting on Managua’s south side.
Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos said Friday from Costa Rica, where he had traveled to meet with President Laura Chinchilla, that he has ordered an investigation into the matter.