Ecuadorean newspaper El Universo on Tuesday refuted claims by security agency DAS director Felipe Muñoz and Colombian President Alvaro Uribe that the DAS agents who blew the whistle on Colombia’s alleged wire tapping of the Ecuadorean presidency were former employees disgruntled over being fired.
El Universo argues against Muñoz’s and Uribe’s claims that the DAS agents were making false accusations, citing a May 2009 court hearing as evidence, the agents were on active duty at the time.
According to El Universo’s Tuesday article, the original report that implicated DAS, published on June 28, was based on testimony given to a Colombian court in May of 2009 by nine DAS agents who formed part of “Operation Salmon,” the alleged espionage ring in Ecuador responsible for intercepting communications of high government officials, businessmen, journalists, military officials, and Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa.
The newspaper went on to explain that the anonymous source who helped them break the allegations of espionage against Correa is one of the nine DAS agents who testified in the May 2009 court hearing.
The Tuesday report went on to list the nine DAS agents in question, among them a “systems engineer technician who specialized in phone-intercepts,” and a counterintelligence detective.
Despite requests from Ecuador’s prosecutor general, El Universo remains steadfast in refusing to disclose which of the nine DAS agents is the anonymous source, citing journalistic integrity.
The Tuesday article comes one day after Ecuador announced it will continue investigations into DAS despite denials by Uribe of the wire tapping allegations.
Ecuadorean Security Minister Miguel Carvajal said on Monday that the statements of denial issued by Uribe and his Foreign Minister Jaime Bermudez were “important,” but said “this does not mean investigations will be brought to an end.”
“Colombia’s declaration is important, but if it had been satisfactory we would not be requesting more information,” Carvajal explained.
Last week, Uribe vehemently denied that DAS had spied on Correa.
Uribe, speaking live on Colombian TV and radio, said that “DAS has never carried out any of the denounced allegations against the president of Ecuador, Dr. Rafael Correa.”
According to Uribe, these allegations form part of an ongoing campaign to harm Colombia’s international relations.
“This case joins the many others in which ill-intentioned people, probably close to DAS, have used information that doesn’t correspond to reality in order to affect the good name of the [Colombian] government, and in this case, affect its international relations,” Uribe explained.
Shortly after El Universo published the interview with the anonymous DAS official, Ecuador’s Prosecutor General’s Office opened a preliminary investigation into the illegal spying allegations. The Ecuadorean official claimed that members of the Colombian security agency were stationed in Quito in order to intercept both land line and cellphone calls made from Correa’s office.
Two apartments used in the operation were “rented in the center of Quito” and “in a six-floor building on Gonzalez Suarez Avenue, where the equipment worked better,” claimed the anonymous DAS official in the interview.
The surveillance operation was allegedly launched after the Colombian army conducted a raid on a FARC camp on Ecuadorean territory in 2008, causing diplomatic relations between the neighboring countries to fracture. According to the informant, DAS’s surveillance points in Quito may still exist.
This is not the first time the DAS has been accused of involvement in international wiretap scandals. Last April, leaked reports from the Colombian prosecutor general’s files revealed that the security agency had carried out illegal monitoring as part of a smear campaign against European organizations, including the E.U. parliament.
According to the files, the European Parliamentary committee on human rights, the U.N. Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights, and certain national governments were deemed a threat to the Colombian government.
Numerous members of the security agency are currently on trial in Colombia for the alleged illegal surveillance and wiretapping activity of a number of the country’s magistrates, opposition politicians, trade unionists and journalists.