A report by Prosecution investigators shows how Colombia’s intelligence
service DAS was spying on Latin America director of Human Rights Watch,
José Miguel Vivanco, and bishops of the catholic church, newspaper El
Espectador reported Friday.
According to the 299-page report quoted by the newspaper, the unwarranted and illegal wiretapping began in 2004 and was initiated and led by DAS official Jaime Fernando Ovalle Olaz, who was sacked from the agency in October 2008 when opposition Senator Gustavo Petro discovered the DAS was intercepting his phone calls and e-mails.
Petro wasn’t the only politician to be wiretapped, even former director of newspaper El Tiempo and current vice-President, Francisco Santos, was subject to a secret investigation, the report says.
Most wiretaps were used to monitor local human rights activists. Most prominently, members of the Jose Alvear Restrepo Lawyer’s Collective were followed, but also members of also peace activists like Justicia y Paz, Fensuagro, Minga, Colombian Commission of Jurists,
Cáritas Diocesanas, Permanent Assembly for Peace, Redepaz, Codhes and the UNHCR.
Even the director of Human Rights Watch of Latin America, Chilean José Miguel Vivanco was monitored. Vivanco regularly clashed with Colombian President Alvaro Uribe about human rights violations in Colombia, while Uribe accused the HRW executive of being a FARC ally.
Anyone who represented “risks, threats or opportunity for the government” could be subjected to wiretaps.
This included high clergies of the Catholic church like monseigneur Nel Beltran and Tulio Duque Gutierrez. The wiretapping of the latter was executed to “restrict or neutralize” his activities, a notification of the wiretapping unit reported to former intelligence director Carlos Alberto Arzayus Guerrero.
The Prosecutor General’s Office is investigating fifteen DAS officials who allegedly made up the agency’s G3 unit, responsible for the illegal interceptions.