In the aftermath of reports on a Military Intelligence list containing email addresses of more than 300 journalists, government officials and activists, Colombia’s government and judicial authorities, and the United Nations demanded clarifications and reforms.
In spite of Army officials’ reassurance about steps taken to investigate the situation and prevent similar events from happening in the future, the political backlash of the fourth alleged case of illegal wiretapping seemed inevitable.
Prosecution officials took the lead on Wednesday, announcing an immediate inspection at the premises of the Central Military Intelligence.
The inspectors of the prosecution’s technical unit will gather documents and technical information on the database with email addresses.
One strand of the investigation will look into a potential connection between the members of central intelligence who were behind the list and Andres Fernando Sepulveda, a hacker admittedly bought classified information to be used during the presidential elections between sitting President Juan Manuel Santos and Sepulveda’s boss, Oscar Ivan Zuluaga.
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“The Constitution of 1991 guarantees protection of fundamental rights, such as freedom of press or freedom of expression. Behaviors undermining the right to privacy, which is sacred in democracy, constitute very serious offenses against the rule of law.” warned Prosecutor General Eduardo Montealegre.
Among those appealing for rapid solutions to the crisis was Todd Howland, the UN delegate in Colombia.
“All of us have a right to privacy and we are concerned when our rights are violated,” commented the UN representative.
Howland made it clear that he expects not only an investigation to follow, but also “structural changes in the agency behind these violations” to occur.
The delegate then called for a debate in Congress on “what mechanisms of control are failing inside the intelligence service.”
Similar concerns were expressed by senator Ivan Cepeda, who reinforced the urgent need for a political debate over the recent “attempts to sabotage the peace process.”
“The country should know who is behind all this, because it becomes more and more apparent that there exists some kind of a sinister plan to put an end to the peace process,” said Cepeda on Wednesday.
“Sabotage” was also the word used by Interior Minister, Juan Fernando Cristo, who insisted that “the government rejects that kind of activity and deems it absolutely illegal.”
According to Cristo, “the prosecution will hopefully get to the bottom of this and expose the apparatus which acts to sabotage peace in Colombia.”
Amid growing controversy, it was revealed on Wednesday that the current Chief of the Military Intelligence, Maurico Forero will leave his post in December. He will be replaced by the commander of the fifth division, Nicasio de Jesus Martinez.
Apart from personnel changes and investigations announced on Tuesday, the Army will also introduce a more pronounced division between intelligence and counterintelligence, with the purpose of a significant reduction of the loss of information.
- Fiscalía ordenó inspección judicial a la central de Inteligencia del Ejército (El Espectador)
- Iván Cepeda citó a debate al Gobierno por sabotajes al proceso de paz (El Espectador)
- ONU propone reestructurar inteligencia militar por nuevo escándalo de espionaje (Noticias RCN)
- Relevarán de su cargo a jefe de Inteligencia Militar (El Espectador)