Panama to review asylum of former Colombia spy chief

Maria del Pilar Hurtado (Photo: El Tiempo)

Panama’s president-elect may review the case of the asylum granted to Colombia’s former intelligence director, who faces a number of criminal charges in Colombia, he told El Tiempo newspaper.

President-elect Juan Carlos Varela stated that the asylum granted to Maria del Pilar Hurtado, former director of the now defunct Department of Administrative Security (DAS), will be reviewed if there are new requirements by the Colombian justice system.

The president-elect, who approved the status of asylum in November 2010 as Panama’s Foreign Minister, said that the review would occur if he was asked to do so by the Colombian government, stating that “assessments must be done according to the requests of the Colombian justice system.”

Panama’s decision to grant Hurtado asylum — who fled Colombia before an arrest warrant could be brought against her — was criticized by Colombian officials, Panamanian lawyers and students, and former president of Panama Martin Torrijos.

If returned to Colombia, the former DAS director who ordered the spying on supreme court judges, journalists, human rights workers and opposition politicians and will face charges of conspiracy, the illegal interception of communication, abuse of public power and fraud.

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