Press release regarding bail application of former colombian presidential candidate Andres Arias
(Miami. Fl. September 23/2016) Former Colombian presidential candidate and former Minister of Agriculture, Andres Felipe Arias, filed today the attached motion to be released on bond pending the examination of Colombia’s request for his extradition. Dr. Arias has the support of former Colombian President Alvaro Uribe, former U.S. Congressman Lincoln Diaz-Balart, and many other high-ranking officials.
Dr. Arias was the Colombian Minister of Agriculture until February 2009, when he decided to run for the Conservative Party nomination for president in 2010. Dr. Arias was viewed as President Uribe’s protégé and likely successor, and therefore, an enemy of the FARC. If elected as president, Dr. Arias would have continued Uribe’s program of crippling the FARC, rather than negotiating with them. As such, Andres Felipe Arias, as the potential President of Colombia, was an imminent threat to the terrorist group.
Dr. Arias was taken out of the presidential election when baseless corruption charges emerged — false allegations that were contrived and fueled by his political opponents. His case was prosecuted by two anti-Uribe attorneys general, one of whom is married to a man with ties to guerilla groups targeted by the Uribe administration. It is undisputed that Mr. Arias did not obtain any financial benefit, he did not receive one penny, there were no kickbacks and no quid pro quo. Contrary to due process requirements here in the United States, there was no jury and no appeal was permitted.
Before his sentence was announced in 2014, Dr. Arias and his family came to the United States to seek asylum — with the blessing of the United States. The U.S. Embassy in Bogota issued him a visa and accepted him into the country, knowing that his prosecution in Colombia was politically motivated. His asylum petition is still pending and the U.S. even recently granted Dr. Arias and his family working permits.
On August 24th, the Santos administration entered into an agreement with the FARC (an agreement that Dr. Arias and his political allies have openly and vehemently denounced). On this same day, Andres Felipe Arias’ Weston home was stormed by federal law enforcement. He was arrested in front of his wife and two young children. Now, Dr. Arias is in prison without bond, pending resolution of this motion.
Dr. Arias’ motion for bond outlines various special circumstances in his case that justify granting bail. First, Dr. Arias poses no risk of flight; he has lived openly in Florida for the two years since he and his family came to the United States, with the help of the U.S. Embassy, to seek political asylum. Dr. Arias is willing to be monitored electronically and to execute a waiver of extradition that would become operative if he should flee this Court’s jurisdiction.
Second, Dr. Arias has the support of President Uribe, former U.S. Congressman Diaz-Balart, and several members of the Colombian Congress, who have written to the Court to denounce publically Dr. Arias’ conviction as unjust and politically motivated and support this bail application. Dr. Arias’ motion also highlights that there is no diplomatic necessity to detain him during this proceeding, especially because the timing of his arrest substantiates Colombia’s political motivation.
Finally, Dr. Arias has no criminal history apart from the unjust conviction at issue, which involved no financial gain to him and would not constitute a United States crime. Dr. Arias is likely to defeat the extradition request because the charges are not extraditable offenses under the treaty; they are not punishable under United States law and they are part of a political prosecution.
To send Andres Felipe Arias back to Colombia is to condemn an innocent man to 17 years in prison or death at the hands of the FARC. He should be granted bond while he demonstrates why the extradition request is invalid.
David Oscar Markus, Esq.
Lauren Doyle, Esq.