Judicial authorities in Bogota have asked Costa Rica to extradite Colombia’s former intelligence chief after learning she had fled Panama, where she was recently refused political asylum.
The former director of now-defunct intelligence agency DAS, Maria del Pilar Hurtado, reportedly left Panama in June, weeks before that country’s Supreme Court nullified the disgraced official’s political asylum.
Former Panamanian President Ricardo Martinelli had granted the asylum after Colombian authorities filed a search warrant over the former official’s alleged involvement in the wiretapping of the Supreme Court, human rights workers, journalists and politicians deemed inconvenient for former President Alvaro Uribe, Del Pilar’s immediate superior at the time.
FACT SHEET: DAS Wiretapping Scandal
Martinelli is a personal friend of Uribe.
However, under Panama’s new president, the country’s authorities examined the validity of the asylum which was repealed in July.
According to Colombia’s Prosecutor General’s Office, Del Pilar did not wait for the final verdict on her asylum and fled to Costa Rica just before the court decided she was to be surrendered to Colombian authorities to respond to the illegal spying accusations.
Radio station Blu reported that the former spy chief is in the Central American country illegally as Colombia revoked the fugitive’s passport.
The Jose Alvear Restrepo lawyer’s collective, one of the human rights groups that was targeted in the illegal wiretapping scheme, said last week that Del Pilar had been requesting asylum in several Central American countries.
The DAS wiretapping scandal unfolded in 2008 after opposition politicians, media and authorities discovered that Colombia’s now-defunct intelligence agency, the DAS, had been spying on the Supreme Court, journalists, human rights defenders and politicians.
Later dubbed the “Colombian Watergate” scandal, it sparked a worldwide outrage as it not only implicated the Colombian president as the alleged force behind the illegal surveillance but also drew ties to the US — a close ally and financial contributor to Colombia.
Uribe and his allies have claimed not to be guilty of the persecution of political adversaries, but to be victim of one instigated by Uribe’s successor, sitting President Juan Manuel Santos.