Former Colombian President Alvaro Uribe has sent a team of lawyers to Panama to defend his ex-spy chief, amid calls for her extradition to face charges over illegal wiretapping.
The announcement, made through Uribe’s Twitter account, comes two days after wiretap victims flew to Panama to petition the government of President Ricardo Martinelli to revoke the political asylum granted to Maria del Pilar Hurtado, the former director of Colombia’s now defunct DAS intelligence service.
Hurtado originally fled to Panama in November 2010, shortly before she was due to appear in the Supreme Court over accusations she oversaw surveillance of journalists, activists and Uribe’s political opponents during her tenure.
The Supreme Court has since ordered her arrest and the Colombian government has officially requested Hurtado’s extradition, with Panamanian authorities due to announce their decision this month.
The scandal has already seen Uribe’s former Chief of Staff Bernado Moreno jailed and banned from office, while two directors were convicted of grave misconduct and sentenced to three to eight years in prison last year.
Uribe recently railed against the “political persecution” of officials who served during his 2002-2010 administration, including those caught up in the wiretapping and “false demobilization” scandals.
The ex-leader himself has admitted “recommending” Hurtado seek asylum in Panama, due to a perceived lack of justice, which she did one day after Uribe held a secret meeting with Martinelli in Honduras.