Students gather at the University of Panama to protest against the decision to grant asylum to a former Colombian spy chief Maria de Pilar Hurtado, and against former Colombian President Alvaro Uribe‘s visit to the Central American country, reports El Tiempo.
The students, calling themselves the “Popular Movement for Revolutionary Youth,” brandished signs and banners with statements such as “Uribe get out of Panama,” and “Oust the repressive Hurtado.”
The political asylum caused fierce criticism in Colombia where the former director of intelligence agency DAS is under criminal investigation for allegedly ordering the illegal wiretapping of Supreme Court magistrates, journalists, politicians, and human rights organizations deemed inconvenient for the government of former President Alvaro Uribe.
Uribe said in an interview on Panamanian TV that his administration had respected the security of politicians and journalists but refused to comment on the issue of the former DAS director’s asylum.
“In Colombia, opposition politicians in my government had as much protection as the president,” Uribe said.
Uribe went on to say that the number of journalists killed in Colombia had been brought down to three in the last three years of his presidency, from an average of 15 per year previously. This was an example of “the great effort made to protect freedom in Colombia,” according to Uribe.
When pressed on the issue of former DAS director Maria de Pilar Hurtado, Uribe offered only that the statement released from Bogota had been “very clear.”
Uribe did say, however, that he supported former Colombian officials who were seeking asylum as they “have no guarantees of justice [in Colombia].”