Ecuadorean Security Minister Miguel Carvajal said Thursday that allegations that Colombian security agency DAS spied on Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa and other officials is “so far just a newspaper story.”
“We can not say for a fact that it has happened,” Carvajal said, referring to the story broken by El Universo newspaper, in which a former (unnamed) DAS employee alleged that the security agency wiretapped Correa’s phone from an operation run out of Quito.
Carvajal said although it was common practice for journalists to protect their sources, in such cases involving national security it was important “to deliver all the information needed to know exactly the source is for the prosecutor to do research and determine whether or not there was espionage.”
Ecuador’s prosecutor general asked the newspaper to reveal the source last week, and Carvajal is also insisting that El Universo provides the information required for investigations.
El Universo refuted claims that the DAS official at the centre of the story was a disgruntled employee, who had been fired, as stated by Colombian president Alvaro Uribe and DAS director Felipe Muñoz.
According to El Universo’s Tuesday article, the original report that implicated DAS, published on June 28, was based on testimony given to a Colombian court in May of 2009 by nine DAS agents who formed part of “Operation Salmon,” the alleged espionage ring in Ecuador responsible for intercepting communications of high government officials, businessmen, journalists, military officials, and Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa.
The newspaper went on to explain that the anonymous source who helped them break the allegations of espionage against Correa is one of the nine DAS agents who testified in the May 2009 court hearing.
Last week, Uribe vehemently denied that DAS had spied on Correa.
Uribe, speaking live on Colombian TV and radio, said that “DAS has never carried out any of the denounced allegations against the president of Ecuador, Dr. Rafael Correa.”
According to Uribe, these allegations form part of an ongoing campaign to harm Colombia’s international relations.
“This case joins the many others in which ill-intentioned people, probably close to DAS, have used information that doesn’t correspond to reality in order to affect the good name of the [Colombian] government, and in this case, affect its international relations,” Uribe said.
The surveillance operation was allegedly launched after the Colombian army conducted a raid on a FARC camp on Ecuadorean territory in 2008, causing diplomatic relations between the neighboring countries to fracture. According to the informant, DAS’s surveillance points in Quito may still exist.