According to court testimony from former DAS official Gustavo Sierra obtained by La F.m., former Vice President Francisco Santos and many other top officials in the Uribe government knew about illegal wiretapping carried out by the intelligence agency.
Sierra, who testified Tuesday, was an investigation official with DAS between 1987 and 2003 and also held several different positions within the organization. He has provided authorities with extensive details about the illegal wiretapping of human rights activists, journalists, political opposition and Supreme Court during the administration of former President Alvaro Uribe.
Sierra testified that in addition to Francisco Santos, former presidential secretary Bernardo Moreno, former Minister of the Interior Carlos Holguin Sardi, Foreign Ministers Jaime Bermudez and Fernando Araujo, former High Commissioner for Peace Luis Carlos Restrepo, and DAS regional consultant Miguel Peñaloza all had knowledge of the illegal surveillance.
Sierra explained a detailed process in which information gathered from the wiretaps was delivered to officials in the Casa de Nariño in a suitcase. The woman who carried the suitcase, DAS employee Sandra Karina Hernandez, had access to offices of the officials in the presidential palace and was instructed to personally deliver all documents directly to their intended recipient, and to leave nothing with secretaries or assistants. All documents were delivered in manila envelopes without signatures, sender or recipient names. After being read by the intended recipient, all documents were to be destroyed.
All documents were sent to presidential secretary Moreno and many were sent on to other recipients, Sierra said.
“All political intelligence obtained by DAS was sent to Bernardo Moreno, not only about the opposition but everything in general,” Sierra said. “According to the DAS directors he was interested in having political control over everything that happened in the country.”
He went on to say, “In the department of analysis every week political analysis was done to be delivered in the presentation of the documents to the director of DAS. The DAS director, after reviewing them line by line, ordered that they were sent to Bernardo Moreno with the presidency. All analysis of political intelligence was sent to Bernardo Moreno and arrived to him in the suitcase.”
Moreno was banned by the Inspector General on October 4 from holding public office for 18 years for his role in the scandal.
Sierra said that all documents, before arriving at the Casa de Nariño, were filtered through several “consultants.” When Andres Peñate was DAS director, his filter was Andres Saenz, and when Maria del Pilar Hurtado was director, her filter was deputy director Jaime Polanco.
“The work of these consultants was very important because they were the people that ordered, coordinated, directed and ran all of the work that was analyzed and was directed to the presidency and other government entities,” Sierra said. “By order of the [DAS] directors, no work could pass the review of the director on duty without being revised by the consultants. The directors were very strict about this and it was a permanent order.”
The former DAS official said the directors ordered the DAS employees to be aware of the actions of government opposition and the political party Polo Democratico, as well as former Senator Piedad Cordoba and former Polo Democratico candidate Gusatvo Petro.
“We were always ordered to be very aware of the conduct of government opponents,” Sierra said.
Documents that Sierra helped the Prosecutor General’s Office obtain contain at least 20 reports with detailed information on Cordoba‘s movements. There were also documents that detailed movements of Petro, including a three-day itinerary of a trip to Spain Petro took in 2007. The former DAS official said he was sent by former DAS director Hurtado to give reports to other officials on the two politicians’ movements.
Sierra also said Hurtado was directly involved in ordering the illegal monitoring of Supreme Court magistrates, the first time Hurtado has been linked to wiretapping of the courts. He said information was collected in the form of recordings of supreme court meetings, and some had to do with trials for allies of the government that were being investigated for parapolitics. According to Sierra, all the information gathered about the Supreme Court was stored in an secret house.
Hurtado was banned by the Inspector General’s Office on October 4 from holding government office for her role in the wiretapping scandal.
Peñaloza, the DAS regional consultant, responded Tuesday to the accusations made by Sierra.
“I never received privileged information,” Peñaloza said.
Prior to his testimony, Sierra was held for six months in a DAS training center in Alquimindia in the department of Cuidinamarca.