European Union targeted by Colombian intelligence, documents show

DAS seal

DAS seal

Several members of the European Parliament have voiced concern over the recent disclosure in Colombia of an alleged operation to undermine the European Union’s parliamentary and human rights bodies. The operation is reportedly mentioned in internal documents belonging to Colombia’s Administrative Department of Security (DAS), which were recently confiscated by the office of the Colombian Attorney General. The confiscated documents describe a clandestine program codenamed Operation EUROPE, which aims to wage a “legal war” intended to discredit and “neutralize the influence of the European judicial system, the European Parliament’s human rights subcommittee, and the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights”. These bodies routinely join international human rights organizations in criticized the abysmal civil liberties record of the government of Colombian President Alvaro Uribe. This record caused the United States Congress, which is usually Colombia’s staunchest international supporter, to vote to terminate all US monetary assistance to the DAS intelligence agency. International pressure over DAS’ involvement in civil liberties abuses forced the Uribe government to announce in 2009 that it planned to disband the scandal-prone intelligence agency. However, the relevant legislation has been stalled by political infighting in the country’s legislature. The latest disclosures about Operation EUROPE prompted a group of European Parliamentarians to demand action from Brussels in response to the revelations. Interestingly, the response by the European Commission has been remarkably muted. One European Member of Parliament told the Brussels-based EU Observer newspaper that behind the Commission’s discreet response is the aim of the Spanish government, which currently presides over the European Union, to implement a long-awaited free trade agreement between the EU and Colombia. Civil libertarians pin their hopes on the upcoming Belgian EU presidency, because Belgium has “citizens that have been proven to have suffered phone tapping by the DAS”.

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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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