In a statement that will only further strain Colombia’s relations with the United States, U.S. ambassador to Colombia, Kevin Whitaker, accused members of the FARC terrorist group of paying up to $5 million US dollars to avoid extradition to the United States. In his comments, Whitaker said that the United States has intelligence to support that corrupt Colombian officials are accepting the money in exchange for pardons through the country’s Special Peace Jurisdiction (JEP). The JEP has the authority to pardon criminals through the 2016 Havana Peace Accords.
In his visit to Colombia’s chancellery, Whitaker said that he already has information about terrorists and criminals who are prepared to bribe Colombian officials.
“We already have information about people who are fraudulently conspiring to be put on these lists, they’re called ‘colados’, we already have the information“, Whitaker said.
Through the 2016 Havana Peace Accords, the JEP has the authority to review and pardon any criminal acts committed during the country’s conflict with the FARC. It is not clear, however, whether the United States will recognize those pardons. Many top ranking FARC officials are still considered to be wanted terrorists by the United States, and Whitaker said that the U.S. will continue to aggressively seek their extraditions.
“If these conditions that I mentioned apply, it could be considered as an offense in the United States, and we will continue to seek extradition”, Whitaker added. He further indicated that the United States could also seek to prosecute any Colombian officials who accept these bribes.