Colombia confirms exit of Russian officials, local media alleges spying

BOGOTA (Reuters) - Two Russian diplomats have left their posts at their country’s embassy in Colombia and cannot return, the South American nation said on Tuesday, as local media outlets accused the men of espionage.

They left on Dec. 8, Juan Francisco Espinosa, head of Colombia’s migration agency, told a news conference. He declined to say what prompted their exit but said government entities work together to confront potential security risks.

Reports by news magazine Semana and newspaper El Tiempo, among others, said the two men were tasked with obtaining military intelligence and information about the energy industry and mineral commodities. Several outlets named the men.

Neither Russia’s foreign ministry nor its embassy in Bogota immediately responded to requests for comment.

“The reasons which motivated the exit are unconnected to the migration agency and are due to state decisions which I prefer not to reference,” Espinosa said.

“Given the circumstances in which these two officials, these two people, left, they cannot return to the country in the short term,” he said.

Neither Colombia’s foreign ministry nor the office of President Ivan Duque had any immediate comment on the reason for the men’s departure.

Reporting by Nelson Bocanegra and Carlos Vargas, additional reporting by Polina Devitt in Moscow; Writing by Julia Symmes Cobb; Editing by Howard Goller