Video scandal jolts Colombia's presidential campaign

BOGOTA (AFP) - A video showing Colombia's main opposition presidential candidate receiving apparently confidential information from a hacker jolted the campaign Sunday.

Oscar Ivan Zuluaga - who opposes President Juan Manuel Santos's peace process with leftist rebels - is pictured in a leaked video speaking with hacker Andres Sepulveda, who recently was arrested for intercepting intelligence on players in the peace process.

"What are we looking at? Information from the intelligence side... This is just an example. It is the military record of the people negotiating in Havana," Sepulveda, with his back to the camera, is seen showing a man - identified as Zuluaga - on a screen in the video released by newsmagazine Semana.

Zuluaga, candidate of the Democratic Center founded by former president Alvaro Uribe (2002-2010), called the video "a vulgar sham... to sully his campaign" ahead of the May 25 vote.

The candidate is also told in the video that he can receive military intelligence or "communications monitoring."

Sepulveda, a systems engineer who worked on the Zuluaga campaign, was arrested May 6 for allegedly hacking Santos' email and the communications of the FARC rebel group related to peace talks in Havana.

The government has been engaged in peace talks with the FARC since November 2012, and Santos has made the effort a central feature of his presidency and his re-election bid.

Santos has charged that the hacking was "an attempt to kill the hopes of Colombians" for peace.

Zuluaga has denied any connection to the hacking, and said the charges were an attempt to divert attention from a separate scandal involving Santos's campaign manager.

The president's campaign manager, Juan Rendon, resigned earlier this week following allegations he was paid US$12 million (S$15 million) by drug traffickers to negotiate their surrender with Santos.

Santos has acknowledged Rendon raised the surrender offer with him, but nothing came of it.

Rendon denied he had received any money from drug traffickers for acting as an intermediary.