Colombia’s defense minister announced on Tuesday that four high members of the Armed Forces would be dismissed after weekly magazine, Semana, revealed that delegations taking part in peace talks between the government and the rebel group FARC were wiretapped.
“In agreement with the general commander of the Armed Forces and the commander of the National Army, we have decided to relieve from their positions, the Chief of Military Intelligence (Ricardo Zuñiga) and the director of the Technical Intelligence Center of the National Army (Oscar Zuluaga),” said Defense Minister Juan Carlos Pinzon at a press conference on Tuesday evening.
The minister included that behavior such as this is intolerable.
In what appears to be a rapid attempt to have someone fall on his sword, these military officers were forced to step down after Semana published a 15-month investigative story with accusations that the Armed Forces have been wiretapping both the government’s and the rebel group FARC’s delegations in ongoing peace talks in Havana, Cuba. The report that shook the country, also asserted that the military had been receiving funding and support from the United States’ Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in carrying out the alleged wiretapping.
Shortly after the story broke, President Juan Manuel Santos took to Colombia’s airwaves assuring the public that he had no prior knowledge about instances of wiretapping, but insisted that this matter would be fully investigated.
“I have given explicit instructions to the Minister of Defense and to the senior commanders of the Armed Forces and the Army, to carry this investigation through to the end, to whatever extent this illegal use of intelligence has reached, to whoever is behind this, whoever could be interested in monitoring and recording and intercepting [the communications of] our peace negotiators, whatever dark forces are behind this,” said Colombia’s head of state.
Pinzon followed suit in his press conference saying that the Prosecutor General’s office, the Military Penal System, and the General Inspector for the Army will all be investigating these allegations.
The Prosecutor General, Eduardo Montealegre said however that even though “interceptions” are permitted by the Constitution and Colombia’s legal system, “there cannot exist the invasion of privacy of people,” reported radio station Caracol Radio.