Colombia’s public prosecution office said Thursday that the army failed to cooperate during an inspection at the Military Intelligence unit over suspicions the military continues to spy on public officials, journalists and politicians.
The director of the Prosecutor General’s technical investigation unit CTI said in a press conference that Military Intelligence officials refused to hand over a database in which the military had gathered the personal and work email addresses of hundreds of journalists, politicians and officials close to ongoing peace talks with rebel group FARC.
“To the Prosecutor General’s Office it is evident that the army is hiding information,” said CTI chief Julian Quintana, in charge of investigating the leaked database that has spurred suspicions the army continues to conduct illegal spying in spite of having been caught, reprimanded and purged on three earlier occasions this year.
According to the CTI boss, army officials refused to hand over the database or any presumed evidence when prosecution officials inspected the premises on Wednesday.
Quintana warned the army that the prosecution “will not allow that justice is played with.”
The military, which claims to have been investigating the matter internally for the past two weeks, denied refusing cooperation with justice.
Armed Forces commander General Jaime Alfonso Lasprilla denied that the army is refusing to cooperate and said that army officials wouldn’t surrender the evidence because this evidence had been transferred to a different location and the official in charge of attending the prosecutors had a doctor’s appointment.
The prosecutors made the surprise visit after the release of evidence of a Military Intelligence database containing email addressed and personal information of hundreds of journalists, public officials close to the president and ongoing peace talks with the FARC, the Red Cross, and other individuals and organizations.
According to Semana, the magazine that made the existence of the database public, parts of this database had previously been sent to US television network Univision.
Throughout the year, the Colombian military has been tarnished by accusations of illegal spying, selling classified information to opposition politicians, and the embezzlement of public funds.