More agents fired in Colombian wiretap scandal probe

Juan M. Santos

Juan M. Santos

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. On Saturday, the scandal-plagued agency firedanother 11 of its operatives, which raises the running total of purged DAS agents to 33. Last April, intelNews reportedthat 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. There are increasing suspicions that the surveillance scheme was devised and implemented by senior intelligence officials, but nobody in the public prosecutor’s office has commented so far on who ordered the interceptions or why. DAS officials have not even named the purged intelligence officials, nor have they disclosed why they were fired. Last May, investigative reporter Joseph Huff-Hanon produced what in this writer’s opinion is the best English-language analysis of the political dimension of the Colombian wiretap scandal. The article is available here. Interestingly, as Huff-Hanon reports, 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”.

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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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