Colombia’s prosecution said Saturday that it has arrested four former top military and government officials for illegally spying on both national and foreign persons of interest.
Among the arrested suspects are two former army colonels, one former army major and one former employee of the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology.
The officials allegedly wiretapped and spied on military and political targets, the Prosecutor General’s Office said in a press release.
The used facade would be two companies in Cali; while the criminal operations center was in Ipiales (Nariño), and from there intelligence information on the movements, location and activities of military and political targets and their relatives, and other national and international personalities would have been collected.
Prosecutor General’s Office
Investigators in the capital Bogota raided A&G Seguridad, the company of the capital’s former chief of police, General Humberto Guatibonza, according to the prosecution.
The retired general denied having any ties to A&G Seguridad, several newspapers reported on Sunday.
Meet the suspects
- Major Luis Mesias Quiroga
Former major of the 1st Division who was arrested in 2004 on triple homicide charges, and apparently out of jail.
- Colonel Carlos Perez
Security chief of Ipiales Mayor Ricardo Romero
- Colonel Jorge Humberto Salinas
Former intelligence expert of the National Army
- Maria Alicia Pinzon
Former employee of the Ministry for ICT who allegedly carried out hacking activities.
According to the prosecution, the alleged spy network offered wiretapping services to both state agencies and the private sector.
Among the victims are “politicians, civilians, justice officials and even partners,” a prosecution spokesperson said at a press conference without specifying who was being spied on.
The portfolio of the website of the company of two of the suspects, JHS Consultores, did not reveal any former clients.
The spy scandal is the third in Colombia in the past decade.
The 2008 DAS wiretap scandal revealed that the office of former President Alvaro Uribe was using now-defunct state intelligence agency DAS to illegally spy on the Supreme Court, rival politicians, journalists and human rights activists.
Incoming Interior Minister Nancy Patricia Gutierrez, who was the president of the Senate at the time, was given illegally obtained intelligence information to discredit Senator Piedad Cordoba, a leftist opponent of Uribe.
The former president became the center of a second spy scandal in 2014 when investigators found out that his political party, the Democratic Center, was conspiring with rogue elements within the military to spy on peace talks with the FARC, the former guerrilla group that demobilized last year.