Colombia’s prosecution on Wednesday charged a former top intelligence official on claims he was hired by airliner Avianca to spy on labor union leaders during a pilot strike last year.
The suspect is the DAS’ former intelligence chief, Laude Jose Fernandez, who allegedly spied on the pilots last year while they were negotiating improved labor terms with Avianca director German Efromovich.
Fernandez has denied the claims that he used the services of an allegedly illegal spy network run by former military commanders to spy on the pilots to obtain confidential information relevant to the negotiations.
One of the suspected spies, retired army Mayor Luis Quiroga, told prosecutors he was spying on the the pilots’ labor union ACDAC “to know what they were planning to after the strike.”
The content of the information was basically what people in the union talked and interacted about potential lawsuits and the prevention of processes that would harm the union.
Mayor Luis Quiroga
According to a second suspect, Jorge Humberto Salinas, this information subsequently was sent to a prosecution official Roberto Montenegro.
[Montenegro] contacted me and told me about the Avianca case. What he told me was that the Avianca staff and their lawyers wanted to know in real time what was happening with the union at the moment, and he gave me the cell phone numbers of the president and vice-president of ACDAC. They wanted to know the conversations regarding the actions or activities that they were carrying out against Avianca.
Jorge Humberto Salinas
Montenegro then testified that he had been contacted by an attorney called Laude, who he has to know from the intelligence agency that was dismantled in 2011 after a series of human rights abuses and a major wiretapping scandal.
Laude is hardly a common name in Colombia, so the prosecution investigators quickly identified Fernandez.
The prosecution went further and accused Avianca of having “a direct interest” in “information related to those activities” carried out by the pilots’ labor union during the labor dispute.
Whether Avianca personnel will be investigated over illegally spying on the labor union during the strike depends on whether Fernandez, who could be sent to jail on Thursday, agrees to talk about his alleged contacts within the airliner.