Colombia’s Interior and Justice Minister German Vargas Lleras said Monday it is “highly desirable” that intelligence agency DAS declassifies its intelligence records, to reveal the truth about the agency’s illegal wiretapping activities.
The minister made his remarks following a report that the DAS had illegally wiretapped Vargas Lleras himself when he was senator for the coalition Cambio Radical party.
The interior and justice minister wants to “declassify this information” and “convict the involved persons.” Declassifying the intelligence information will prevent a scandal like this from happening again, Vargas Lleras claimed.
While less explicit, Vice President Angelino Garzon told press that the will exists to “advance” in the declassification of records.
“We have to make an end to the practice that every citizen is worthy of suspicion. These are fascist practices that we can not allow in our country,” Garzon was quoted as saying by newspaper El Espectador.
Vargas Lleras’ proposal also led to criticism within the governing coalition. According to Augusto Posado of President Juan Manuel Santos’ Partido de la U, the proposal is “populist” and right-wing former Interior and Justice Minister Fernando Londoño said in his radio column that “to declassify is to make an end to intelligence.”
“The intelligence the minister wants to make an end to is a universal element. Who will ever gather intelligence when what they did is turn it into a crime? They were wiretapping so-and-so. So what if they did? They were simply trying to find out how things were,” the former minister said.
The Colombian government is currently in the process of abolishing the DAS, which over the years has been disgraced by scandals involving human rights violation, collaboration with drug traffickers and paramilitaries, and the illegal wiretapping of individuals and organizations.