Colombian President Alvaro Uribe said on Tuesday that if a government is responsible for ordering illegal wiretaps, then those involved would be jailed, including the president, reported Caracol Radio.
Speaking to a group of students at the Universidad Autonoma de Occidente in the city of Cali, Uribe defended his government in the ongoing scandal of illegal wiretapping carried out by security agency DAS, saying, “If a government orders illegal espionage, they would go to prison, starting with the president.”
Uribe also urged people not to compare this scandal with the famous “Watergate” scandal involving American president Richard Nixon in 1974, as Nixon’s case involves spying on the campaigns of rival politicians.
Uribe’s statements come a day after the arraignment of Gustavo Sierra, the former assistant director of analysis for DAS who turned himself into authorities on Monday for his role in the illegal wiretaps.
Last week, Colombian newspaper CM& published a report blasting the government for its role in the scandal.
The government responded last week with a statement denying any involvement in the wiretapping scandal; “Following stories in the press related to the investigation carried out by the Prosecutor General’s Office over alleged illegal wiretaps, the Presidency of the Republic wishes to state that not one employee of the Casa de Nariño has met with officials to instruct or order the interception [of communications] or shadowing of magistrates, politicians or any person.
“All officials are willing to appear before the judicial bodies to ratify that the Casa de Nariño never has given instructions in this sense,” the statement asserted.
Five former executives of intelligence agency DAS were arrested last week for their alleged part in the illegal wiretapping of judges, journalists, human rights workers and politicians.