Colombia’s Supreme Court raided the army after an anonymous spying tip triggered a preliminary investigation against former President Alvaro Uribe, Noticias Uno reported Sunday.
The tip contained information on the exact locations from where the army was carrying out illegal spying and the army officials who would be willing to testify.
Magistrate Cristina Lombana, a former army major, ordered the raid of these locations on December 18 amid suspicions that magistrate Cesar Reyes, who is investigating Uribe on fraud and bribery charges, is the victim of illegal spying.
Anonymous tip contained identities of soldiers willing to talk
As claimed by the anonymous tipster, army officials were willing to confirm they took part in the allegedly illegal spying practices.
They told Semana earlier this month that the wiretaps had been ordered by the former chief of the National Army, retired General Nicasio Martinez.
Curiously, one of Semana’s sources said that the magistrate who ordered the raid was being wiretapped.
According to Noticias Uno, the judge investigating Uribe was being spied on and possibly wiretapped at home.
The tipster said that some of the information was sent to Uribe, Semana would go no further than claiming it was sent to “a prominent politician” of President Ivan Duque‘s Democratic Center Party. The magazine has said it first wants to verify the identity of the alleged recipient.
From an anonymous tip to a raid on the army
According to Noticias Uno, the tip was initially sent to the secretary of the Instructions Chamber, which is investigating Uribe, on December 13, the day after the army reportedly was warned about a pending inspection.
Throughout this year, several military intelligence and counter-intelligence units have dedicated themselves to using their capabilities to carry out illegal interceptions of communications whose recipient is Mr. Uribe. The victims of these actions include senators, house representatives, magistrates, journalists and generals.
Tip quoted in court order
According to Semana’s sources, the warning triggered commanders close to Martinez to help with the erasing and removing of evidence of illegal activity.
After the court took no immediate action, the tipster emailed the president of the Instructions Chamber, Hector Alarcon, on December 16.
Lombana, a former army major, received the email on the December 17 and warranted the raids on December 18, after which Semana’s sources began to talk.
All investigations on Uribe were shielded from Lombana because her colleagues found that as a former army major she had a conflict of interest in investigating her former commander in chief.
Furthermore, she never told the court she worked with Uribe’s defense attorney in the 1990s.
Curiously, the preliminary investigation she opened against the former president ended up incriminating Martinez while there have been no reports of any arrests.
2014 scandal revived
The anonymous tipster said that his information was related to the 2014 “Andromeda” scandal in which illegally obtained intelligence on peace talks with the now-demobilized FARC guerrilla group was sold to a campaign worker of then-presidential candidate Oscar Ivan Zuluaga of Uribe’s far-right Democratic Center party.
I want to reveal some truthful information that should be taken into account and that may be relevant within the investigation that is being carried out in the case of the wiretapping in which the current Senator Alvaro Uribe Velez and the sadly condemned hacker Sepulveda are involved.
Tip quoted in court order
Apart from campaign Andres Sepulveda, one soldier who had sold information and one agent of intelligence agency DNI, which at the time only responded to former President Juan Manuel Santos, and who was spying on Sepulveda were sentenced to prison over this scandal.
The court never opened a formal investigation against Uribe because, contrary to the tipster’s claim, there was no evidence the former president was involved, the prosecution’s former investigation chief said in 2016.
Uribe is still suspected of his involvement in illegal spying carried out when he was president by the DAS, the predecessor of the DNI, which now only responds to Duque.
What about the evidence?
None of the evidence of spying on the magistrate of Uribe’s investigator was found in the army raids, but in Reyes’ office. Additional indications the magistrate’s wifi at home was being tampered with are investigated by the prosecution.
The existence of this evidence has been confirmed by the president of the Investigation Chamber and acting Prosecutor General Fabio Espitia.
The fact that Lombana’s raid was targeting Uribe, but ended up incriminating Martinez raises questions. The fact that none of the evidence of alleged spying on Reyes was found in the army raid raises even more questions.
Senator Roy Barreras, one of the alleged victims of the spying practice, for months has said he believed he was spied on by the DNI.
The anonymous tip picked up by a controversial magistrate diverted all attention away from the DNI and triggered a raid on the army instead.