The documents declassified by the National Intelligence Secretariat and the clandestine recordings that were delivered to the Prosecutor’s Office show contradictions in the anticipated testimony of Raúl Ch. He is the main witness and one of the defendants in the criminal proceedings for the kidnapping of the political activist.
The kidnapping of Fernando Balda is a chiaroscuro that has been evident since two Ecuadorian intelligence groups infiltrated the Hotel Las Lomas de Medellín to discover an alleged plot to overthrow Rafael’s last re-election.
It was on May 8, 2012, when the spies entered Colombia pretending to be businessmen and tourists who wanted to know the city of eternal spring. They never imagined being in the same room, called Guayacán, with the same purpose. The first were part of the “Operation Guayacán”. The second was part of the operation that included the activities of an intelligence police officer, Raúl Ch., who according to his lawyer Diego Chimbo unleashed in the kidnapping of Fernando Balda and who now, six years later, can take the former Ecuadorian prisoner to prison.
In Medellín there is a link that does not fit. The declassified files of the National Intelligence Secretariat (Senain), which are part of the trial, detail the “Guayacán operative” to attend a forum of former Colombian President Álvaro Uribe, and where Balda was also present. The document contains the names of the spies, the routes they used, the codes they handled and the reports they delivered on their return.
From the operation of Raúl Ch. There is no similar information. But the agent told the judge of the National Court, Daniella Camacho, how his espionage began. He recalled that on May 3, 2012, the then Secretary of Intelligence, Pablo Romero, made him the invitation to spy on the conclave of the opposition. In the list were Balda; Luis Almeida (Patriotic Society); Leonardo Viteri (PSC); Mario Pazmiño (former head of Army Intelligence); the intelligence ex-policeman, Stalin Sacoto, and the Colombian ex-president Álvaro Uribe.
Of them, the only one who gave his version was Sacoto, who told a different one than Raúl Ch. He told the Vanguardia Magazine, in 2013, that Balda invited him to the meeting and asked him to promote another person, so he thought of Raúl Ch ., who told him that he left the police to be an entrepreneur.
Both belonged to the Directorate General of Intelligence (DGI); both were experts in espionage, but Sacoto left the Force when he clandestinely recorded his commander, José Vinueza, and broadcast that audio.
Sacoto and Balda were also old acquaintances. In 2009, the police gave him recordings against the Correa government. It was Balda’s first step in the opposition and the beginning of a string of denunciations that left him two trials, an arrest warrant and his exile in Colombia. Raúl Ch. cannot give statements, but his lawyer maintained that the order and the invitation to go to Medellín came from Pablo Romero.
The defender says he does not know who Sacoto is or knows of that interview. And he deduces that Sacoto had contact with Romero and thus they got that invitation. Romero also has not given his version to the Prosecutor’s Office, but his lawyer, Stalin Oviedo, maintains that his client did not provide this provision and complained because he has not yet received a copy of the Senain recordings that would verify whether Raúl Ch. visited Romero that May 3, 2012. “Touring” in Medellín Raúl Ch. spent 15 years learning the techniques of Intelligence.
They nicknamed him “mouse” for his ability to sneak away in complex situations. In his testimony he recalled that in 2010 he went to the Senain – although there is no document that evidences it – to prevent microphones or other listening systems from being placed in the offices of the Government.
His work was successful and he became a trainer of 24 new agents of this technique. “Mouse” slipped without problems in the meeting in Medellin. Before the meeting he toured the tourist attractions next to Sacoto and Balda; and as evidence, he delivered the photos of those visits to the Prosecutor’s Office.
Meanwhile, the spies of “Operation Guayacán” did not have it easy. They located the participants of the meeting with Uribe. So they photographed Pazmiño, Viteri and others having lunch in a restaurant 20 minutes away from Hotel Las Lomas. They did not know about the presence of Raúl Ch. But they did recognize him in the room.
In his report, they identified him as “the DNI and he bought equipment.” Diego Chimbo emphasizes that the two operations were based on the principle of compartmentalizing information. This is a concept that is summarized in that the right hand does not know what the left does.
In this way, each agent fulfilled his mission. The agents of “Operation Guayacán” returned from Medellín with a detailed report of the actions that would be executed in Ecuador and outside of the country to affect the candidacy of Correa. Instead, “Mouse” came to the country with the news that Fernando Balda offered equipment to hack emails.
He told how astonished he saw how Balda, from his personal computer, access without problems to the post of the then secretary of Communication, Fernando Alvarado. Balda has another story. He said he never trusted “Mouse” and that he knew from Medellin that he was a policeman and he discovered it very easily because while everyone was talking, he wrote his report on the computer he had brought.
That sale of equipment, said Balda, was a pantomime created by actors who hired to make him believe Raúl Ch. And the government that had trapped him. “Pablo Romero tells me that they have the green light to evidence, buy, bring and acquire all the interception equipment (…) offered by Balda. This is how I am prepared to travel to Colombia on May 17 (2012) to meet for the negotiation of teams, “testified Raúl Ch. to Judge Daniella Camacho. He said the Senain gave him money and guidelines to acquire those equipment.
“Mouse” made the payments to Balda through drafts to his wife’s account. But there are no records of those purchases. The lawyer Chimbo emphasizes that these teams were handed over to the Senain and that their directors must answer for them.
The “Wilson Operational”
Raúl Ch. Tells how the supposed order to kidnap Fernando Balda was: “And he says to me, fellow, the skinny one I already gave him the orders, he already knows what he has to do and you have the political, economic and institutional support (…) as I followed the links I recognized the voice of Rafael Correa (sic) “.
Until then, the agent had no problems in following Balda, but on August 6, 2012 the panorama changed again for him. Raúl Ch. Recalled that that day he arrived at the Senain and Pablo Romero told him that the President was annoyed by Balda’s publications on Twitter.
He recalled that Romero told him: “I do not know how, but the” Presi “wants them to bring Fernando Balda from Bogota to Ecuador as he wants to be brought.” It was a mission that was entrusted to “Mouse” because he had gained the confidence of the opponent.
According to his statement, to execute it he asked if there was money in the coffers of the Senain. His testimony continues: “Your mission is to take the money, contact the military, you already have knowledge with the morenos and they are very professional”.
Then Raúl Ch. Asked for guarantees. Supposedly Romero called Correa, who reassured him with his words. From that moment on, they would no longer speak of Balda, but of “Balls”, of “Wilson”, by the famous brand of balls.
There was born the “Wilson operative” to kidnap Balda. However, Raúl Ch’s own recordings, given to the Prosecutor’s Office, deny that accusation. In 2015, the police spoke with the former Secretary of Intelligence to ask him for help. Romero even mentions reporting his case to the President. But in that dialogue, Chicaiza speaks twice; says “Operativo Wilson” and in one he stressed that it was created in 2013 by Romero.
That date coincides with the documents that the Senain gave and that in February 2013, Pablo Romero authorized “Operation Wilson” and asked the Legal Department to monitor the Prosecutor’s Office and Counterintelligence to arm the case.
Oviedo stressed that the “Wilson” was the continuation of “Operation Guayacán” and that it was intended to stop the smear campaign led by Balda.
The order to bring Balda
The psychological assessment of Fernando Balda made by the Prosecutor’s Office ensures that he does not lie, that he was kidnapped on the night of August 12, 2012 while walking through Bogotá. That day he had met with Raul Ch. To continue with the negotiation of the teams.
According to the statement of Raúl Ch., He did not deliver the money that Romero sent to the people he told him. He spoke with Karim Shek Mina, who gave Balda security, and offered to pay him to take him safe and sound back to Ecuador.
Mina accepted the deal for an amount of $ 28,000 and put together a team to meet the objective, where was Johnatan Luzuriaga, who was also known by Balda. The kidnapping failed. Karin Shek Mina and her aides were arrested, although they have regained their freedom.
Mina confessed that an Ecuadorian policeman was behind everything. Then it was not difficult for the Colombian Prosecutor’s Office to reach “Mouse”. The Sheraton hotel cameras recorded it when talking with the kidnappers; In addition, the invoices for the rental of the vehicles consisted of his name and he also recorded it at the time he bought suits for Mina’s team.
Thus the case was closed in Colombia, but in Ecuador it became a tsunami. The Ecuadorian Prosecutor’s Office assures that there are indications to link former President Correa and former Secretary Romero in the criminal investigation.
Stalin Oviedo emphasizes that his client never gave the order to kidnap Balda. The defense of the former president maintained the same thing. Instead, Chimbo explains that the Correa gave it; but the decision to kidnap him was from Raul Ch. although he rectifies and says that the order was to bring him by force.
Oviedo advances a grim outlook for his client and for the former president. He predicts that they will be prosecuted as intellectual authors of the kidnapping of Balda. (I)