Apr 14

The following images come from files that Colombia’s Prosecutor-General’s Office (Fiscalía) recently turned over to independent Colombian journalist Hollman Morris. They are shocking and seem to confirm some of our worst suspicions.

The Fiscalía is investigating illegal surveillance, wiretaps and intimidation carried out by the DAS, the Colombian Presidency’s intelligence service. The targets of the DAS campaign were opponents of President Álvaro Uribe: opposition politicians, journalists, human rights defenders, and even Supreme Court judges. Hollman Morris, the journalist, was one of those most aggressively followed.

A Fiscalía report issued Saturday concluded that the DAS surveillance of Supreme Court judges “was directed from the Casa de Nariño,” Colombia’s equivalent of the White House.

Here are the files obtained by Hollman Morris, with English translations. They go beyond surveillance and wiretapping to reveal what it calls a “political warfare” campaign of dirty tricks and threats against President Uribe’s political adversaries. They date from 2005, the last year of Jorge Noguera’s tenure as DAS director. Noguera is now on trial facing charges of aggravated homicide. Click on each graphic to view it larger.

COURSES OF ACTION

  • Initiate a smear campaign at the international level, through the following activities
    • Communiqués
    • Inclusion in FARC video
  • Request the suspension of [U.S.] visa

HOLLMAN FELIPE MORRIS RINCÓN

COLOMBIAN JOURNALIST

COURSES OF ACTION

  • Initiate a smear campaign at the international level, through the following:
    • Communiqués
    • Inclusion in FARC video
  • Sabotage actions (steal his passport, ID card, etc.)
FOREIGN TRAVEL

OPERATIVE ACTIONS

  • Location of his residence at (address blurred out by CIP) in Bogotá
  • Constant following of his moves.
Fiscalía delegated to the Supreme Court

Evidence, Box 5 Copy AZ 63 – 2005

January 6 and 7, 2010

(DAS SEAL)

GENERAL INTELLIGENCE DIRECTORATE

OPERATIONS SUBDIRECTORATE

POLITICAL WARFARE

  • Defend Democracy and the Nation.
  • Create consciousness about the consequences of a communist system.
OPERATIONS

  • AMAZONAS
  • TRANSMILENIO
  • BAHIA

STRATEGIES

Smear campaign

  • Media, Polls, Chat
  • Streets: Distribution of pamphlets, graffiti, flyers, posters, books.
  • Creation of Web pages: Communiqués, denunciations, false accusations.

Sabotage

  • Terrorism: Explosive, incendiary, public services, technology

Pressure

  • Threats, blackmail.
RESULTS

  • Disinform the population in favor of the Government’s detractors.
  • Generate division within the opposition movements.
  • Impede the organization of events convened by the opposition.
  • Ideological transfer. [Unclear to us what this means.]

ADMINISTRATIVE DEPARTMENT OF SECURITY [DAS]

GENERAL INTELLIGENCE DIRECTORATE

OPERATIONS SUBDIRECTORATE

JUNE 2005

REPUBLIC OF COLOMBIA

AMAZONAS

GENERAL OBJECTIVE

  • Promote actions beneficial to the State for the 2006 elections.

TARGETS

  • Political parties opposing the State.
  • Constitutional Court.

[ILLEGIBLE] POLITICAL PARTIES

SOCIAL AND POLITICAL FRONT

  • CARLOS GAVIRIA DÍAZ: Generate ties to the FARC ONT (Narco-Terrorist Organization).

LIBERAL PARTY

  • PIEDAD CÓRDOBA: Generate ties with the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia [someone has drawn a question mark pointing to this].
  • HORACIO SERPA URIBE: Generate ties to the ELN.

INDEPENDENT DEMOCRATIC POLE

  • GUSTAVO PETRO: Generate ties to the FARC.
  • ANTONIO NAVARRO: Generate ties to the M-19 and narcotrafficking.
  • WILSON BORJA: Generate sentimental infidelity [i.e., adultery rumors].
  • SAMUEL MORENO: Demonstrate relationship to financial embezzlement.
CONSTITUTIONAL COURT

  • JAIME CÓRDOBA TRIVIÑO
  • HUMBERTO SIERRA
  • JAIME ARAÚJO RENTERÍA
  • CLARA INÉS VARGAS HERNÁNDEZ
  • TULIO ALFREDO BELTRÁN SIERRA

STRATEGIES

Smear campaigns, pressure and sabotage.

TRANSMILENIO

GENERAL OBJECTIVE

Neutralize the destabilizing actions of NGOs in Colombia and the world.

SPECIFIC OBJECTIVE

Establish their ties with narcoterrorist organizations, in order to put them on trial.

CASES

  • UNDER DEVELOPMENT:
  • PROJECTIONS:
OPERATION PUBLISHER

  • OBJECTIVE: Impede the edition of books
    • EA [we don't know what this stands for]
    • Others
  • STRATEGIES: sabotage and pressure.
  • ACTION: Public services
    Distribution trucks
    Threats
    Judicial warfare

OPERATION HALLOWEN [SIC.]

  • OBJECTIVE: Make the population conscious of the reality of communist ideology.
  • STRATEGIES: smear campaign.
  • ACTION: publish book (10,000 copies) – 7,620 delivered
  • PROJECTIONS: Internet (4,000 copies) – creation of web page
OPERATION ARAUCA

  • OBJECTIVE: Establish ties between CCAJAR (The José Alvear Restrepo Lawyers’ Collective human rights group) and ELN
  • STRATEGIES: Sabotage
  • ACTION: Exchange message with ELN leader, which will be found during a search of the premises

OPERATION EXCHANGE

  • OBJECTIVE: Neutralize influence in the Inter-American Human Rights Court, Costa Rica
  • STRATEGIES: Smear campaigns and sabotage
  • ACTION: Alliance with foreign intelligence services
    Communications and denunciations on web pages
    Judicial warfare
OPERATION EUROPE

  • OBJECTIVE: Neutralize influence in European Judicial System
    European Parliament Human Rights Committee
    Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights of the UN
    National Governments
  • STRATEGIES: Smear campaign
    ACTION: Communiqués and denunciations web pages
    Judicial warfare

OPERATION RISARALDA

  • OBJECTIVE: Generate division between high Redepaz officials (Ana Teresa Bernal) [Bernal, director of the pro-peace group Redepaz, also serves on the government's National Commission for Reconciliation and Reparations]
  • STRATEGIES: Operative investigation
    Smear campaigns and sabotage
  • ACTION: Prove illicit activities of the Redepaz official to obtain economic handouts to obtain political asylum.
    Communiqués
    Delinking her security apparatus (DAS)
OPERATION INTERNET

  • OBJECTIVE: Generate controversy with regard to NGOs
  • STRATEGIES: Smear campaign
  • ACTION: Emission of communiqués through the creation of the pages: Truth and justice corporation, and Colombian Information and Statistical Service for Conflict prevention

OPERATION FOREIGNERS

  • OBJECTIVE: Neutralize the action of foreign citizens who attack State security
  • STRATEGIES: Operative investigations
    Smear campaigns and pressure
  • ACTION: Deportation
    Communiqués and denunciations
Jan 28

Posted to the website of El Tiempo, Colombia’s main newspaper, early this morning:

Posted minutes ago to the website of El Tiempo:

Note as of 10:15AM January 29: Semana magazine is reporting that Ovalle, 54, died of cancer diagnosed in December.

Oct 07

Here is the first of what we expect to be a series of regularly updated fact sheets about Colombia and U.S. policy toward the Americas. Once we have made a few of these, we’ll add a section to this site and host them here in HTML and PDF format.

This first entry seeks to give a brief overview of Colombia’s “DAS” wiretapping and surveillance scandal, with links to all sources consulted.


Colombia’s Domestic Spying Scandal

By Adam Isacson, CIP Latin America Security Program. Last updated October 8, 2009.
A PDF version of this document is available at www.cipcol.org/files/factsheets/das_scandal.pdf

On February 21, 2009, Colombia’s most-circulated newsweekly, Semana, broke an important story. It revealed that the Administrative Security Department (DAS), the Colombian Presidency’s internal intelligence agency, had been carrying out a campaign of wiretaps and surveillance of human rights defenders, Supreme Court justices, opposition politicians, and journalists. DAS agents also followed their targets’ children, wives, and assistants.

New evidence has emerged over the course of 2009. It indicates that the DAS was conducting warrantless wiretapping since at least 2003 through 2008, and possibly this year. The full extent of the illegal spying, and the identity of the individual(s) who ordered the program, remain unknown.

What does the DAS do?

  • In 1953, Colombia’s only military dictatorship of the 20th century created a Colombian Intelligence Service (SIC) within the president’s office. The SIC became the DAS in 1960.
  • The agency’s roles have since expanded. Its 6,500 members now gather intelligence about domestic threats, handle passports and immigration, guard threatened individuals, and serve as Colombia’s main interface with Interpol. The DAS has been a key counterpart for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

This is not the Uribe administration’s first DAS scandal

Jorge Noguera.
  • Colombian President Álvaro Uribe’s first DAS Director (2002-2005) was Jorge Noguera, who directed Uribe’s 2002 campaign in the department (province) of Magdalena. In early 2006, Noguera was revealed to have collaborated closely with some of Colombia’s most notorious narcotraffickers and right-wing paramilitary leaders. He allegedly facilitated drug shipments and gave the paramilitaries lists of human rights defenders and labor leaders to assassinate. Since December 2008, Jorge Noguera has been in prison and facing trial for aggravated homicide.
  • In late 2008, the DAS was found to have been ordering illegal surveillance of opposition Senator Gustavo Petro, a revelation that forced the resignation of DAS Director María de Pilar Hurtado.
  • Four appointees and one interim director have led the DAS during Uribe’s seven years in office.

The February 2009 revelations

The “G-3”

  • In 2003, then-DAS Director Noguera created the “Special Strategic Intelligence Group,” a unit known as G-3 which appeared nowhere in the agency’s organization chart. The G-3, whose very existence the DAS denied until March 2009, was created to carry out intelligence operations including, according to one folder found in the agency’s headquarters, “Surveillance of organizations and people with tendencies to oppose government policy in order to restrict or neutralize their actions.”
  • The G-3 was abolished when Noguera left in November 2005. However, many of its functions passed to another DAS unit, the “National and International Observation Group” (GONI). The G-3’s original coordinator, Jaime Fernando Ovalle, remained in the DAS until November 2008, when he was fired for his role in the illegal surveillance of Senator Petro. The GONI was dissolved in March 2009.

Spying on human rights defenders

The G-3 closely followed members of Colombia’s most prominent human rights groups, as well as some labor leaders and independent journalists. The extent of the surveillance is alarming.

  • Prosecutors showed Alirio Uribe of the José Alvear Restrepo Lawyer’s Collective (no relation to President Uribe), a human rights group, some of his DAS files from the 2003-2005 period. According to the New York Times, they “included photos of [Uribe’s] children, transcripts of phone and e-mail conversations, details on his finances [including bank account information] and evidence that DAS agents rented an apartment across from his home to monitor him.”
Hollman Morris.
  • Investigative journalist Hollman Morris, reports Inter-Press Service, found a file with “photos and information on his parents, siblings, wife and children, and on his day-to-day movements, with a level of detail that reminded those looking at it of the thorough investigations carried out by hired killers while planning their hit jobs.”
  • International human rights workers were targeted by DAS too. Emails from Human Rights Watch ended up in DAS files, and the G-3 recommended carrying out “offensive intelligence” against the organization’s Americas director, José Miguel Vivanco. The OAS Inter-American Human Rights Commission protested revelations that the DAS had spied on a June 2005 visit of Special Rapporteur for Women’s Rights Susana Villarán.

Spying on judges

  • The G-3 appeared to focus principally on non-governmental activists. The GONI’s targets, however, included Supreme Court magistrates who have been investigating dozens of President Uribe’s political allies’ alleged ties to murderous paramilitary groups. (The charges of politicians’ support for paramilitaries, known in Colombia as the “para-politics” scandal, have put about one-quarter of Colombia’s current Congress [.doc file], nearly all of them government supporters, under investigation, on trial or in prison.)
  • Documents found in a DAS detective’s office contained brief biographies of Supreme Court magistrates, information on their families, and personal information ranging from their political affiliations to intimate details.
Iván Velásquez.
  • A chief target has been Iván Velásquez, the magistrate charged with leading the “para-politics” investigation against President Uribe’s political allies. Judge Velásquez “was never left alone for a minute,” reported Semana. During one three-month period in 2008, DAS spies recorded 1,900 of his phone conversations. The DAS also spied on members of Judge Velásquez’s investigation team and their families.

Spying on political figures

  • In May 2009, investigators found recordings revealing that all candidates running against President Uribe’s 2006 re-election bid were wiretapped. Colombia’s daily El Espectador published a list of 36 prominent politicians, nearly all from the opposition, and six noted journalists who were under surveillance at the time.
  • One DAS detective said he was assigned to monitor people like ex-presidents Ernesto Samper and Andrés Pastrana. This included wiretapping and wearing disguises to meetings and events, as well as following their children, wives, advisors, and assistants.
  • Semana columnist Daniel Coronell noted a series of “inexplicable coincidences” in which DAS agents made a series of searches into the agency’s restricted database for information about former president César Gaviria, a critic of President Uribe. Days later, on April 27, 2006, Gaviria’s sister was murdered.

August 2009 revelations of new spying

  • In its August 30, 2009 issue, Semana reported that, in the wake of the DAS surveillance revelations, “Things not only have not changed, but they have even gotten worse. The wiretaps and surveillance of [Supreme] Court members, journalists, politicians and some lawyers continue. And if that weren’t enough, they have extended to some presidential candidates [Colombia has elections in 2010] and, recently, to members of Congress.”
  • “Some of the [wiretapping] equipment being used was hidden from the Prosecutor-General [Fiscalía] and Inspector-General [Procuraduría] during the wiretap investigation,” an anonymous DAS source involved in the operation told Semana. “Two weeks ago, some of the equipment returned to Bogotá to monitor members of Congress, based on the referendum voting.” The “referendum” refers to a bill, passed by Colombia’s Congress in September, to schedule a plebiscite on whether to change the country’s constitution to allow Álvaro Uribe to run for a third straight term.
  • Among the new wiretaps are more recordings of Judge Iván Velásquez, the Supreme Court’s chief “para-politics” investigator. One recording (audio) is of a mid-2009 phone conversation between Velásquez and James Faulkner, a Justice Department official assigned to the U.S. embassy. “It worries me to hear the voice of my judicial attaché in a wiretapped call,” U.S. Ambassador William Brownfield told reporters.

The extent of the spying, and who ordered it, are unknown

Removing boxes (more photos).
  • Security videotapes from the first week of January 2009 show boxes and computers being removed from the DAS offices. Colombia’s prosecutor-general at the time, Mario Iguarán, told the Associated Press that when prosecutors first went to the DAS offices to start investigating, they were “given the run-around by DAS personnel, who directed them to the wrong offices or went searching for keys.” Much information is probably lost.
  • Jorge Lagos, the DAS chief of counterintelligence, told the Prosecutor-General’s Office that he gave information about some Supreme Court justices to President Uribe’s general secretary, Bernardo Moreno, and the president’s controversial personal advisor, José Obdulio Gaviria.
  • Former DAS Director Maria del Pilar Hurtado said in an interview that the warrantless wiretaps and investigations of Supreme Court magistrates were born out of concerns voiced by President Uribe.

The U.S. government’s response

  • In February 2009, U.S. Ambassador William Brownfield recognized that the United States provided eavesdropping equipment to the DAS.
  • “[W]e obviously think that the steps that have already been made on issues like extrajudicial killings and illegal surveillance, that it is important that Colombia pursue a path of rule of law and transparency, and I know that that is something that President Uribe is committed to doing.” – President Barack Obama, June 29, 2009, hosting President Uribe at the White House.
  • “Allegations of illegal domestic wiretapping and surveillance by Colombia’s Department of Administrative Security (DAS) are troubling and unacceptable. The importance that the Prosecutor General’s Office has placed on prosecuting these crimes is a positive step for Colombia, but media and NGO reports allege that illegal activity continues, so it is even more vital that the Colombian government take steps to ensure that this is not the case, and that the Prosecutor General’s Office conduct a rigorous, thorough and independent investigation in order to determine the extent of these abuses and to hold all perpetrators accountable.” – September 2009 Department of State press release announcing that Colombia, in the department’s view, meets human rights conditions in U.S. foreign aid law.

The Colombian government’s response

  • The scandal has led to the exit of at least 33 DAS employees, including resignations of the deputy directors for counterintelligence, Jorge Alberto Lagos; intelligence, Fernando Tavares; analysis, Gustavo Sierra; and operations, Marta Leal.
José Miguel de Narváez.
  • In July 2009, the Prosecutor-General’s office [Fiscalía], which is a separate branch of government in Colombia, ordered the arrest of ten DAS officials in connection with the spying allegations. Those arrested include Lagos, Leal, Tavares, and José Miguel de Narváez, who served as the number-two DAS official under Jorge Noguera and is widely accused of very close ties to paramilitaries. The arrest orders came one day before Prosecutor-General Mario Iguarán left office, at the end of his four-year term. Lagos and Tavares were released in late September 2009 on claims that prosecutors committed “procedural errors.”
  • In mid-September 2009, acting Prosecutor-General Guillermo Mendoza revealed that two prosecutors in his office – not the DAS – had illegally wiretapped Justice Iván Velásquez, the “para-politics” investigator, in 2009. These recordings included the judge’s conversation with the U.S. embassy official. However, it is not clear why Justice Velásquez’s phone number was among those given to the Prosecutor-General’s office for wiretapping. An unknown party added the judge’s number to a list of numbers to be tapped for a routine extortion case of a hardware-store owner in a town near Bogotá.
  • The Uribe administration has repeatedly maintained that the spying occurred behind the president’s back. Following the September 2009 revelation that some phone numbers for wiretapping had been passed to the Prosecutor-General’s office, officials began to advance the theory that the entire scandal was the product of a plot to sabotage the Uribe government. In mid-September 2009, President Uribe spoke of “a criminal plot to discredit the government and affect its international relations.” Vice-President Francisco Santos claimed that the DAS spying and related revelations owed to “a big, well-orchestrated, well-funded defamation campaign.”

How is President Uribe proposing to reform the DAS?

President Uribe makes his September 17 announcement.
  • On September 17, 2009, President Uribe surprised many by declaring, “I’m in favor of eliminating the institution [the DAS] and leaving a small entity lending immigration and intelligence services, which can be managed by the National Police.”
  • Functions proposed to pass from the DAS to the National Police, or to the Prosecutor-General’s Technical Investigations Corps (CTI), include security for threatened individuals, liaison with Interpol (official as of October 7, 2009), and judicial police powers.
  • According to a September 18, 2009 DAS communiqué, “The DAS will be liquidated to give way to a new civilian intelligence agency. … The new intelligence agency will have as its only mission to produce the intelligence and counter-intelligence that the country needs.”
  • It remains unclear how this new agency will be safeguarded and monitored to avoid a repeat of politically motivated wiretapping and surveillance in the future.
Sep 09

This is too funny not to share, so I’ve added English subtitles.

Appearing on the website of the Colombian newsweekly Semana, “Mr. Jones,” a puppet who speaks Spanish with an atrocious gringo accent, expresses his indignation that the Colombian presidential intelligence service (DAS) has been wiretapping the telephone conversations of officials at the U.S. Embassy. These new revelations appeared in Semana a week and a half ago. They come after months of scandal about DAS wiretaps and surveillance of opposition politicians, journalists, Supreme Court judges and human rights groups.

Wiretapped Ambassador from Adam Isacson on Vimeo.

Feb 27
In just three months, the Presidential Intelligence Service (DAS) recorded 1,900 of the phone conversations of Auxiliary Justice Iván Velásquez, the chief investigator in the “Para-Politics” scandal.

Apologies for the delay in posting about last weekend’s highly disturbing revelations that the intelligence service of the Colombian Presidency, the DAS (Departamento Administrativo de Seguridad) has once again been systematically wiretapping and following private citizens.

The intelligence agency, which reports directly to President Álvaro Uribe, has been embroiled in several scandals in recent years. In late 2005 its director, Jorge Noguera, was accused of collaborating closely with paramilitaries on efforts ranging from facilitating narcotrafficking to developing lists of human-rights defenders and labor leaders to murder. Late last year, the supposedly “reformed” DAS was found to have been ordering surveillance of opposition Senator Gustavo Petro, a revelation that forced the resignation of DAS Director María de Pilar Hurtado.

The DAS continues to be a highly troubled institution, as the agency – or at least a large rogue element within the agency – is using much of its resources to spy on prominent citizens. Its “targets” include opposition politicians, social-movement leaders, journalists, and – perhaps most troublingly – Supreme Court officials trying to investigate ties between paramilitary narcotraffickers and dozens of President Uribe’s political allies.

The news outlet that broke the story, the Colombian newsmagazine Semana, has not added an English version of its cover story to its website. Here are some translated excerpts.

The DAS is still recording

Between the 19th and 21st of January, most of the “secrets” of many of Colombia’s top peraonalities were destroyed on the 11th floor of the main DAS headquarters. “We received the order to gather everything we had in several offices in the building, and in other buildings, and bring it to the Counter-Intelligence office. For two days external disk drives were gathered, hard drives were changed out of computers, CDs, voice files and confidential documents were collected. I alone, without counting my colleagues, carried two boxes full of those things,” one of the DAS detectives who participated in this unique collection told Semana. “Of all the boxes that were taken to Counter-Intelligence, with documents, recordings and the rest, only one remained, which was taken out of the 11th floor at the end of the afternoon of Wednesday the 21st. I don’t know what was left in that one, or where they took it. I just know that everything else was destroyed,” the source affirms.

The suspicious mission of recovering and destroying information was carried out by a small group of officials. Though they sought to do it in the most discrete manner, it was inevitable that a few DAS members would notice the unusual things going on during those days. But what was it that they were destroying with such urgency? Much of the files that don’t exist today were, among others, recordings, secret documents and intelligence analyses that contained information about a wide variety of personalities whom the DAS was watching.

Supreme Court justices, journalists, opposition politicians, generals in the armed forces, prosecutors, and even some high government officials made up the group that, for the past several months, was being monitored by the security body.

Many thought that it would be hard for the DAS to confront a situation worse than that of October 2005, when it ended up tangled in a scandal stemming from paramilitary infiltration that ended with the resignation, and subsequent jailing, of then-Director Jorge Noguera.

At that moment, deep reforms to the institution were promised so that this would not happen again. But it happened. Despite the subsequent directors’ good intentions, the information gathered by Semana makes clear that there is a powerful sector in this agency that is at the service of paramilitaries, guerrillas, and dark political interests.

“Here we work on targets and objectives who could become a threat to the security of the state and of the President. Among those are the guerrillas, the emerging criminal groups, some narcos. But among these targets is also, and obviously this is one of the functions of the DAS, to monitor some personalities and institutions to keep the Presidency informed. For example, how could it not be a DAS mission to monitor [Senator Gustavo] Petro, who is a former guerrilla and is in the opposition. Or [opposition Senator and peace facilitator] Piedad Córdoba, for her ties to Chávez and the guerrillas,” said to Semana a detective who works in the Subdirectorate of Operations of the DAS, part of this entity’s intelligence directorate. “Any person or entity who represents an eventual danger for the government has to be monitored by the DAS. As a result, more than a year ago, the activities of the [Supreme] Court, and some of its members, came to be considered and treated as a legitimate ‘target.’”

Targeting the justice system

This fact was corroborated to Semana by four other DAS officials, members of the intelligence, counter-intelligence and operational directorates. In addition to these testimonies, Semana obtained some of the analyses developed by DAS members, which make evident their efforts to follow, wiretap and monitor members of the Court. One of the most revealing reports is about Auxiliary Justice Iván Velásquez, the chief investigator for the “para-politics” scandal.

Velásquez has been subjected to a “man-to-man defense” since the “Tasmania” incident in October 2007, when President Álvaro Uribe accused the judge of fabricating testimonies against him, which ended up being a hoax. They don’t leave Velásquez alone for even a minute, as can be gathered from the DAS report.

In the documents Semana has, it is revealed that during three months they intercepted 1,900 of his phone calls, in which he spoke with everyone: Supreme Court justices, Justice and Peace prosecutors to know what the paramilitary witnesses were revealing, with the Prosecutor-General’s Office’s witness-protection program to know who was ready to give evidence, with para-politics witnesses, among hundreds of other calls.

But Velásquez was not the only member of the Supreme Court being watched by the DAS. Investigators, other justices and auxiliary judges of the high court were also the object of “monitoring.” According to several detectives, among these “targets” was Francisco Ricaurte, until recently the President of the Supreme Court; the president of the court’s Criminal Chamber, Sigifredo Espinosa; and justices César Julio Valencia and María del Rosario González. “When the confrontation between the court and the presidency worsened, about a year and a half ago, the order was to know as much as possible about all the justices, using all necessary means, from human sources to technical measures. When the confrontation began to diminish, the monitoring was concentrated only on those deemed high-priority, like Velásquez,” one of the detectives who works in the intelligence directorate, and who participated in following some justices, told Semana.

Continue reading »

May 31

Jorge Noguera, who headed President Uribe’s intelligence and security service (DAS) until late 2005, was sent to jail in February. He is to face trial for allegations that he worked closely with paramilitary leaders and narcotraffickers from his powerful office, even giving them lists of labor and human-rights activists to target.

Incredibly, Noguera was let out of jail in March on the barest of technicalities. (A document that should have been signed by the Prosecutor-General was signed instead by one of his top deputies.) Despite the seriousness of the charges against him, which caused the U.S. government to revoke his visa earlier this year, Noguera is a free man right now.

This display of leniency – for a man who was President Uribe’s campaign manager in the paramilitary-dominated department of Magdalena in 2002 – was viewed very poorly outside Colombia.

Now, Colombia’s José Alvear Restrepo Lawyers’ Collective informs us, Colombia’s prosecutor-general, Mario Iguarán, “must decide in the next few days whether he will send [Noguera] back to prison.” They urge Iguarán to oversee the case personally so that Noguera’s lawyers can find fewer legal loopholes for their client to slip through.

The prosecutor-general is under a lot of political pressure, and his office is overwhelmed by the “para-politics” scandal and the “justice and peace” trials of demobilizing paramilitary leaders. The Jorge Noguera case, however, is an early and important test of the Colombian judicial system’s ability to deal with the power and influence of paramilitarism and organized crime.

Last week, President Uribe proposed releasing from prison all alleged paramilitary collaborators not accused of serious human-rights crimes themselves – a proposal he has since softened a bit. But Noguera is accused of serious human-rights crimes, so he doesn’t even fit the president’s initial definition of who should be let out of jail.

The former DAS director should not be at large right now. Let’s hope that Mario Iguarán is able to do something about it.