A judge on Tuesday ordered Colombia’s Defense Ministry to release all the army’s intelligence files on journalists, lawmakers and Supreme Court magistrates.
Opposition House Representative Katherine Miranda (Green Alliance) successfully sued the defense ministry, demanding it disclose the full content of the intelligence operations against at least 130 civilians, including at least 52 journalists.
So far, media have disclosed only part of the “secret files” prepared by military intelligence units that targeted journalists, at least one Supreme Court magistrate, members of the military, lawmakers and President Ivan Duque’s former chief of staff.
Gathering information easier than providing it
Miranda had already filed an open information request, which was being ignored by the Defense Ministry.
In the lawsuit, the lawmaker demanded an “immediate, timely and, above all, thorough response” from the ministry that has been embarrassed over the National Army’s reportedly illegal activity after the appointment of General Nicasio Martinez as army chief.
Martinez resigned in December last year, a month before weekly Semana reported the army was conducting illegal wiretapping operations.
The defense ministry’s turtle tactics?
Semana reported in May that military intelligence was also profiling local and foreign journalists and other targets of no national security interest like Duque’s former chief of staff, Jorge Mario Eastman.
The second report forced Defense Minister Carlos Holmes Trujillo to take action and at least say he was among the most interested to get of the bottom of the case after months of no visible attempts to get to it.
Trujillo surrendered evidence to the prosecution and Duque purged the military of the commander the president had put in place in December 2018 amid growing suspicions the generals were part of a mafia dissidence within the military.
The criminal investigations
The Supreme Court last month said it would investigate former President Alvaro Uribe, Duque’s political patron.
According to an anonymous tip, the controversial politician was the recipient of some of the illegally obtained intelligence reports.
Chief prosecutor Francisco Barbosa said he would call Martinez and at least 12 other officials to trial based on Trujillo’s information, but has yet to report any progress.
The scandals became a concern in Washington DC after reports the army was using US equipment for criminal purposes, endangering military aid to the South American country.