Top members of Colombia’s military, the government of President Ivan Duque and his far-right party are implicated in Colombia’s biggest wiretapping scandal in more than a decade.
The last time the government was involved in a scandal of this magnitude, the country’s top intelligence chief and multiple presidential aides disappeared behind bars. The same could happen to the following suspects.
Former National Army chief Nicasio Martinez
Having spent 38 years in the army, his future now looks bleak as multiple army spies have accused him of ordering the setting up of clandestine wiretapping operations and of sending information on magistrate Cristina Lombana to a “well-known politician” of President Ivan Duque’s far-right Democratic Center (CD) party.
More than two dozen criminal dossiers against Duque’s political patron and the boss of the CD, former President Alvaro Uribe, were briefly given to Lombana, a former army mayor, after her appointment in October 2018.
Defense Minister Carlos Holmes Trujillo
According to Semana magazine, the dynasty politician raised the alarm about spying practices and ordered an internal investigation in December. The investigators, however, reportedly ended up helping to disappear evidence on December 13.
While the court raided the wiretapping facilities in Bogota and Facatativa on December 18, Trujillo personally called the investigating magistrate in an attempt to stop the investigation, a military intelligence source told Semana.
Democratic Center party mogul Rafael Nieto
Former Vice-Minister of Justice Rafael Nieto would be the “well-known politician” of the party of Duque and his political patron, Uribe, Noticias Uno on reported on Sunday without indicating the origin of this claim.
Nieto, a Bogota dynasty politician and close ally of the former president, told the news program this was “bullshit.”
The former vice-minister is already under investigation over his alleged role in political warfare against Uribe critics and the Odebrecht bribery scandal.
During the DAS wiretapping scandal, the prosecution found evidence indicating that Nieto would have been behind “Operation Internet, ” a 2004 intelligence operation that created fake NGOs in Costa Rica from where “smear campaigns were carried out against human rights defenders, trade unionists, journalists and members of the opposition,” according to the prosecution.
Armed Forces commander General Luis Navarro
Other than this possible obstruction of justice, there is evidence indicating Navarro knew of the spying on lawmakers at least before November 6.
On that day, the Armed Forces commander received presumably illegal intelligence on Senator Roy Barreras during a debate that would lead to the resignation of the former defense minister.
Special Communications chief Colonel William Ostos
Ostos was appointed commander of this army brigade by Martinez in January last year.
While the colonel’s name does not appear in the Semana investigation, the reportedly criminal activity made public by the weekly was carried out under his watch.
Furthermore, Ostos’s men actively tried to obstruct the raid carried out by Supreme Court and Inspector General investigators.
General Eduardo Quiros
Quiros was the former counterintelligence commander until June 23. He was removed from that position after evidence emerged that he led witch hunts against sources who had talked to the New York Times about questionable instructions to double the army’s combat kills and captures in January.
While under investigation by the Inspector General, Quiros wasn’t fired but promoted to chief of the National Army’s Operations Department, or CEDE3.
This department is in charge of “advising and keeping informed the Army Commander and the Chiefs of Staff in all matters related to the military operations carried out in the national territory,” according to the institution.
Colonel Carlos Buitrago
Colonel Carlos Buitrago replaced Quiros as the army’s acting counterintelligence chief after the New York Times witch hunt scandal.
Together with Quiros, the colonel allegedly ordered his men to erase and remove evidence of illegal wiretapping ahead of the Supreme Court raids.
The colonel was reportedly Quiros’s right-hand man while the disgraced general was still in charge of counterintelligence. The two apparently continue to work together closely.