Analysis: Major Colombian wiretap scandal explained

Last April, Colombia’s Administrative Department of Security (Departamento Administrativo de Seguridad, or DAS) suffered one of the most extensive purges in its history, when 22 of its detectives were fired in connection with an investigation into illegal wiretapping against several public figures in Colombian political life. Those targeted by the illegal wiretappers included Supreme Court judges, prominent journalists, as well as the chief of the Colombian National Police, former president Cesar Gaviria, and even the minister of defense Juan Manuel Santos. Investigative reporter Joseph Huff-Hanon has produced what in this writer’s opinion is the best English-language analysis of the political dimension of the Colombian wiretap scandal. Huff-Hanon’s article, which is available in The Indypendent, online newspaper of New York City’s Independent Media Center, pays particular attention to the rumored US involvement in the wiretap scandal, first reported by Colombian newspaper Semana. Those in the know have been aware for some time that “the US government […] supplied the sophisticated interception devices used by the [DAS] spies”. Interestingly, Huff-Hanon’s analysis concludes that the scandal “does not appear to have dampened US-Colombian relations”: just days after the wiretapping scandal made headlines all over Colombia, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton welcomed Colombian Foreign Minister Jaime Bermúdez Merizalde to Washington as “the representative of a country that has made so many strides and so much progress”. Joseph Huff-Hanon’s article is available here.

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Expert news and commentary on intelligence, espionage, spies and spying, by Dr. Joseph Fitsanakis and Ian Allen.

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