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BRIEF

FARC Guerrilla Seeks Asylum in Venezuela

COLOMBIA / 16 AUG 2011 BY HANNAH STONE EN

Venezuela has suspended the process of extraditing a FARC guerrilla leader known as "Julian Conrado" to Colombia, after the prisoner lodged an asylum application.

Guillermo Enrique Torres Cueter, alias "Julian Conrado" or "El Cantante" (The Singer) was captured in May by Venezuelan security forces. He is thought to be the political head of the Southern Bloc of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia - FARC).

Pedro Eusse, head of the pro-government communist party, said that the application was being processed and that Torres could not be moved until this was completed.

Colombia's President Juan Manuel Santos has said he is confident that Venezuela will send the FARC leader to face justice in his home country.

If Caracas decided not to send Torres to Colombia it could herald a new low phase in relations between the two countries. Colombia recently chose to extradite drug trafficker Walid Makled to Venezuela rather than the U.S., as part of a new phase of cooperation with its neighbor.

Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez has often been accused of aiding Colombian rebels, a claim given weight by computer files seized by Colombian security forces from a FARC camp in 2008.

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