An incumbent House Representative and Senator-elect for Colombia’s socialist opposition said Tuesday he has filed criminal charges against presidential candidate Oscar Ivan Zuluaga for allegedly spying on ongoing peace talks with rebel group FARC.
Congressman Ivan Cepeda of the Democratic Pole (Polo Democratico – PDA) announced the criminal charges on his Twitter account, saying “I have just files criminal charges against @OIZuluaga before a representative of the Prosecutor General’s Office for allegedly spying on the peace process.”
Acabo de radicar ante el despacho del Fiscal General denuncia penal contra @OIZuluaga y otros por presunto espionaje al proceso de paz.
— Iván Cepeda Castro (@IvanCepedaCast) May 20, 2014
The leftist Cepeda is one of the most vociferous critics of the conservative Zuluaga and his political patron, former President Alvaro Uribe.
According to polls, Zuluaga is the most likely candidate to defeat incumbent President Juan Manuel Santos in the elections held on Sunday.
However, as pre-election polling came to an end over the weekend, the presidential hopeful sank deeper and deeper into a scandal centered around his campaign’s alleged obtaining of US and Colombian military intelligence and the alleged wiretapping of communications between members of delegations trying to negotiate peace between the FARC, Colombia’s largest rebel group, and the state.
Cepeda described Zuluaga’s recently exposed ties with incarcerated hacker Andres Sepulveda as a “type of treason” which was attacking the peace process, leading him to lodge a formal complaint with the Prosecutor General’s Office.
Zulaga has become embroiled in scandal after having been recorded listening to illegally obtained information by Sepulveda who was arrested after agents from the Prosecutor General’s technical investigation team (CTI) raided an apartment in the capital Bogota, discovering surveillance equipment allegedly used to intercept electronic communications about ongoing peace negotiations with rebel group FARC.
According to the statement by Cepeda, “The peace process is a concern and object of the Nation. To be part of plots or conspiracies is to attack the process. What I see is a kind of treason and I worry that there are other cases of spying or abetting espionage which are violating the privacy of individuals,” reported El Pais Colombia newspaper.
Cepeda therefore requested that the Prosecutor General, Eduardo Montealegre, force Zuluaga to undergo questioning and explain what has happened in an open investigation in order to determine if either the candidate or his ex-campaign manager, Luis Alfonso Hoyos, should be charged with acts of spying against the peace process and presidential opponents.
Although initially denying knowing Sepulveda, it soon emerged that the hacker was in fact hired as part of Zuluaga’s campaign with a video then surfacing showing Zuluaga and Sepulveda speaking and allegedly listening to illegal gained information.
Several political leaders have demanded that Zuluaga renounce his presidential candidacy but the candidate refuses on the grounds that the video was doctored to sabotage his campaign.
As of yet no disciplinary action has been taken against Zuluaga by the Prosecutor General’s Office.