Colombian President Alvaro Uribe on Thursday vehemently denied accusations that Colombian intelligence agency DAS spied on Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa.
Uribe, speaking live on Colombian TV and radio, said that he had met Wednesday night with his foreign minister, defense minister, and the director of DAS, Felipe Muñoz, to discuss the allegations. According to Uribe, “DAS has never carried out any of the denounced allegations against the president of Ecuador, Dr. Rafael Correa.”
According to Uribe, these allegations form part of an ongoing campaign to harm Colombia’s international relations.
“This case joins the many others in which ill-intentioned people, probably close to DAS, have used information that doesn’t correspond to reality in order to affect the good name of the [Colombian] government, and in this case, affect its international relations,” Uribe explained.
Working to mitigate the potential damage done to Colombian relations with Ecuador, Uribe reiterated that “the only purpose that [Colombia] has is to re-establish full relations with their sister Republic of Ecuador, in the framework of their common fight against narco-terrorism.”
Uribe’s denial comes one day after Ecuador formally requested information on the alleged spying by DAS on Correa.
On Monday, Ecuador’s Prosecutor General’s Office opened a preliminary investigation into the illegal spying allegations after a local newspaper published an interview with an anonymous DAS official. The official claimed that members of the Colombian security agency were stationed in Quito in order to intercept both land line and cellphone calls made from Correa’s office.
Two apartments used in the operation were “rented in the center of Quito” and “in a six-floor building on Gonzalez Suarez Avenue, where the equipment worked better,” explained the DAS official.
The surveillance operation was allegedly launched after the Colombian army conducted a raid on a FARC camp on Ecuadorean territory in 2008, causing diplomatic relations between the neighboring countries to fracture. According to the informant, DAS’s surveillance points in Quito may still exist.
Following the allegations, President Correa warned that his government would once again break diplomatic ties with Colombia if the claim that DAS had spied on him proved to be true.
Prior to Uribe’s public denial, the Colombian foreign ministry also issued a statement saying that the allegations were false. “The answer was provided by the DAS yesterday in a statement. The DAS categorically reject that possibility … the DAS response is overwhelming,” Foreign Minister Jaime Bermudez said Tuesday.
This is not the first time the DAS has been accused of involvement in international wiretap scandals. Last April leaked reports from the Colombian prosecutor general’s files revealed that the security agency had carried out illegal monitoring as part of a smear campaign against European organizations, including the E.U. parliament.
According to the files, the European Parliamentary committee on human rights, the U.N. Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights, and certain national governments were deemed a threat to the Colombian government.
Numerous members of the security agency are currently on trial in Colombia for the alleged illegal surveillance and wiretapping activity of a number of the country’s magistrates, opposition politicians, trade unionists and journalists.
Uribe’s comments that the Ecuador spying allegations form part of an ongoing campaign to harm Colombia’s international relations come one month after his government accused Venezuela of leading a plot to discredit the Colombian head of state.
In May, Colombia’s Defense Minister Gabriel Silva attributed accusations that Uribe’s brother ran a paramilitary death squad in the 1990s to a Venezuelan plot.
“What this amounts to is an assault on President Uribe and his brother… All these accusations against the president have come from Venezuela,” Silva said.
Uribe called the paramilitary allegations a plot to “discredit the democratic security” in Colombia.