‘Colombia’s intelligence agency plotting political warfare against peace advocates’

Three senators said Saturday they have sued Colombia’s intelligence agency DNI for allegedly preparing political warfare against opponents of President Ivan Duque and his far-right party.

In an open letter to Duque, the senators accused the National Intelligence Directorate (DNI) of illegal spying and plotting to smear “political targets” that oppose or criticize the government and the president’s controversial political patron, former President Alvaro Uribe.

The DNI rejected the senators accusations and stressed the agency was acting within the law.

The political persecution claims

According to the members of the Senate’s Peace Commission, multiple sources have told them that the DNI “has been preparing smear campaigns against us and a dozen other citizens who have been declared ‘political objectives’ of undercover operations.”

Senators Roy Barreras, Ivan Cepeda and Antonio Sanguino

The Senators said that they had been briefed about a March 30 meeting in a home in the Salitre neighborhood in Bogota in which DNI officials were discussing directives  from DNI chief Rodolfo Amaya, who reports directly to the president.

Senators Roy Barreras, Ivan Cepeda and Antonio Sanguino

Barreras, Cepeda and Sanguino said they had filed charges against the spy agency before the Prosecutor General’s Office, believing it is preparing a “strategy of systematic persecution” of critics of the government and Uribe.

Senators Roy Barreras, Ivan Cepeda and Antonio Sanguino

Who the senators are

Roy Barreras (U Party)

Senator Roy Barreras is the president of the Senate’s peace commission and one of the most powerful defendants of the country’s ongoing peace process and a close ally of former President Juan Manuel Santos.

Ivan Cepeda (Democratic Pole)

Senator Ivan Cepeda is another member of the peace commission became one of Uribe’s main political enemies after publishing a book in which he exposed evidence of the Uribe family’s ties to a death squad.

Antonio Sanguino (Green Alliance)

Senator Antonio Sanguino is also a member of the peace commission who began as a radical student leader, but broke ties with armed groups in the 1990s to become one of Colombia’s most vociferous and renowned peace advocates.

DNI denies criminal activity

In a press release, the DNI rejected the senators’ accusations and said that “all activity of this Directorate are carried out with transparency, traceability, [and] respect for human dignity and human rights.”

National Intelligence Directorate

Who the president’s spy chief is

Uribe appointed Amaya as his chief military adviser when the controversial former president took office in 2002 and the DAS embarked on a ruthless political persecution campaign for which he is now in prison.

Duque appointed the admiral director of the spy agency that reports directly to the president’s office two days after taking office in August last year.

The senators’ accusations are similar to the ones made in 2008 by Senator Gustavo Petro who revealed the Uribe administration’s systematic political persecution of political adversaries and judicial officials investigating the Uribe family’s ties to paramilitary groups.

The scandal led to the dismantling of DNI predecessor DAS, and the incarceration of multiple top intelligence executives and Uribe aides.

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