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Colombian Guerrilla group releases Spanish Journalist after week-long captivity

Both ELN and FARC are currently negotiating with government over a peace agreement mediated by Cuba

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Salud Hernandez, correspondent at El mundo . Image Source: elspanol.com
  • Hernandez went missing on May 21 in a remote region near border with Venezuela
  • Salud Hernandez and Two other journalist were released by the Leftist Guerrilla group
  • The spanish Journalist was delivered to a Catholic priest in the town of Torrán (Bogota, Colombia)

Salud Hernandez , a Spanish journalist disappeared on May 21 was released on Friday by Marxist guerrilla group in Colombia with 2 other journalist after almost a week in captivity.

It seems that she disappeared while covering a story in remote region near the border with Venezuela and was inhabited by the guerrilla group.

Salud Hernandez, correspondent of a Spanish newspaper El Mundo said, “Thank you to everyone who prayed for me,” on Friday in her first interview upon  being freed.

The guerrilla group identify themselves as ELN or National Liberation Army. They delivered Hernandez to a Catholic priest in the town of Torrán. Hernandez confirmed that the other two journalist’s are with them and after  2 hours Correspondent Diego D’Pablos and cameraman Carlos Melo, who work for the RCN Colombian TV network, were also released.

Members of the Colombian National Liberation Army(ELN) guerrilla group stand in the mountains of Perija near the border town of Cucuta 06 December 1999 during a meeting with reporters. The Colombian government has begun a track of talks with the ELN, Colombia's second largest leftists rebel group but has not bowed to their demands for a demilitarized zone in the northern Colombia. Image source: Getty Images
Members of the Colombian National Liberation Army(ELN) guerrilla group stand in the mountains of Perija near the border town of Cucuta 06 December 1999 during a meeting with reporters. The Colombian government has begun a track of talks with the ELN, Colombia’s second largest leftists rebel group but has not bowed to their demands for a demilitarized zone in the northern Colombia. Image source: Getty Images

ELN is the second largest rebel group just after Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC. The ELN  has an estimated 1,200 fighters. It is said that Catatumbo area is filled with ELN people and illegal crops are means of earning in that area. Catatumbo is also home for drung selling.

Both ELN and FARC are currently negotiating with government over a peace agreement mediated by Cuba.

Farc’s leader Rodrigo Londoño, better known as Timochenko, on Friday in an unusual tweet criticised ELN for kidnapping Salud .” Today it’s Salud Hernández, tomorrow it could be any Colombian. Those practices must end for ever in Colombia. Peace demands her freedom.”

Columbian president Juan Manuel Santos has said that peace talks will not begin until ELN releases all the hostages. But the group has not agreed to this and their leader Nicolás Bautista, known as Gabino said “We are not willing to accept impositions,” in an interview which aired before the journalist was kidnapped.

-by Bhaskar Raghavendran

Bhaskar is a graduate in Journalism and mass communication and a reporter at NewsGram. Twitter handle: bhaskar_ragha

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US Warns Spain About Risk of Opening Networks to Chinese Tech Firms

US Pressures Spain on Chinese Tech Firms

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Spain tech
The U.S. government warned Spain about the security risk inherent in opening its fifth-generation communications networks to Chinese tech firms. Wikimedia Commons

The U.S. government warned Spain this week about the security risk inherent in opening its fifth-generation communications networks to Chinese mobile technology providers.

In meetings Thursday and Friday, U.S. officials warned Spanish officials and telecommunications executives that the U.S. could stop sharing sensitive information with Spain if the Chinese firms reportedly involved in 5G technology were not excluded from local markets.

Robert Strayer, U.S. deputy assistant secretary for cyber and international communications and information policy, told reporters at the U.S. Embassy in Madrid that 5G pioneer Huawei was under the control of the Chinese government.

Spain tech
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo walks on the tarmac as he leaves Germany after taking part in the 56th Munich Security Conference (MSC) in Munich, southern Germany. VOA

Defense implications  

“We cannot put our important information at the risk of being accessed by the Chinese Communist Party,” Strayer said, stressing that technology developed by Huawei to accelerate connections between billions of objects has inevitable defense implications.

Huawei offers better 5G network equipment at lower prices than its competitors, according to telecommunications analysts. U.S. efforts to restrict the company’s access to major international markets have been rebuffed by allies in Europe and Asia.

The U.K. announced in late January that it would allow Huawei to equip parts of its 5G networks. Similar decisions have been made by Germany and other EU governments.

At an international security conference in Munich last week, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called for the creation of a Western alliance against China aimed at blocking cyberespionage.

“In recent years, we have witnessed an intense communications campaign to raise consciousness over the interference of the People’s Republic of China in companies that manufacture telecommunications equipment,” said Javier Cremades, a Spanish lawyer specializing in cybersecurity.

‘Criminalizing’ competition

Cremades said Chinese laws allow official access to all information handled by technology firms. That provision, however, does not extend to European affiliates or commercial activity outside China, he said, adding that U.S. accusations against China might be aimed at “criminalizing” the competition in the rivalry with Beijing to control the world’s phone technology market.

Spokesmen from the U.K.’s National Cyber Security Center said it was “feasible” to implement security measures to separate “high-risk vendors” from sensitive data and functions, although it could require design restrictions that may slow 5G network performance.

U.S. officials said other European and Asian firms that have been cleared to operate in American markets, including Sweden’s Ericsson and South Korea’s Samsung, offer 5G technology as advanced as China’s.

Spain tech
A woman and her dog walk past a Huawei shop in Madrid, Spain. VOA

Spain’s biggest telecommunications companies, including Telefonica and Vodafone, say they have taken steps to reduce Chinese input for their core systems of future data management in mobile telephones, according to the newspaper El Mundo.

But U.S. appeals to European countries to restrict access to Chinese tech giants come at a sensitive moment in transatlantic commercial relations.

Serious disagreement over European Union efforts to impose a new tax on American high-tech providers has already shaken the telecommunications sector.

U.S. diplomats have threatened to retaliate against Spain and other countries for imposing taxes that target American firms that operate a majority of Europe’s digital networks.

Also Read- US States Start Supporting Planned Parenthood Clinics

U.S. President Donald Trump “cannot become a boss who tells European countries what they can do in the EU,” said Spain’s Treasury Minister Maria Jesus Montero, who defends the tax as a way of protecting local competitors.

Spain has a had a close commercial and military relationship with the U.S. since the middle of the last century. But the influence of China has grown recently, with nearly 50% of Spain’s national debt now owned by Chinese banks.  (VOA)