Colombia: Political prisoner Miguel Beltran absolved of all charges

published 16 June 2011 updated 21 June 2011

EI is delighted to report that Dr. Miguel Angel Beltran has been released from a Colombian prison after being absolved of the charges of ‘rebellion’ and ‘criminal conspiracy for terrorist purposes’.

Dr Beltran was imprisoned in May 2009 after being arbitrarily detained and deported from Mexico, where he was carrying out post-doctoral research at the UNAM University in Mexico City.

The Colombian authorities claim that Dr Beltran is a key member of the FARC guerrilla group; supposedly responsible for writing ‘ideological material and articles' for the guerrillas. The evidence was based on supposed information from the notorious ‘FARC computers’ allegedly seized in the Colombian army’s raid on a FARC camp in Ecuador in 2008.

In the final trial hearing on 3 June, Dr. Beltran told the Judge, “I am an academic, not a terrorist”, stating that the case was politically motivated and was part of a systematic attack on intellectuals, in which academics critical of the regime were accused of being guerrillas. He also highlighted cases of imprisonment and even of assassination of critical academics.

The decision to release Dr. Beltran on 7 June came days after the Colombian Supreme Court declared, in a separate case against former Congressman Wilson Borja, that evidence from the computers allegedly belonging to murdered FARC Commander Raul Reyes did not fulfil legal pre-requisites and were therefore illegal.

The imprisonment of Dr. Beltran had caused an international scandal in the global academic community, with thousands of EI members and academics protesting against his on-going detention.

EI and its British affiliate the University and Colleges Union (UCU) campaigned for Dr. Beltran’s release. UCU General Secretary, Sally Hunt, said: 'We are delighted that Dr. Beltran has been absolved of all charges. This vindicates the efforts UCU members have put in alongside Justice for Colombia, and teacher trade unionists around the world. We hope that it will be a significant step forward in the on-going battle for human rights in Colombia.'