Colombia congressional Peace Commissions to discuss Army wiretapping

Posted on Feb 19 2014 - 7:23pm by Rico
(Photo: Confidencial Colombia)

Colombia’s House and Senate Peace Commissions will be meeting late Wednesday to discuss a secret Army program that recorded the communications of various members, reported national media sources. 

The program, codenamed “Andromeda,” targeted congressmen familiar with ongoing peace talks between the Colombian government and the FARC rebel group, the country’s largest, along with opposition politicians, journalists covering the peace process and delegates to the negotiations, currently being held in Havana, Cuba.

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Congressman Joaquin Camelo said the meeting was called to “discuss the shameful events that have occurred regarding wiretapping against some of my fellow members of the Peace Commission and Colombian Government during negotiations with the FARC,” according to the El Colombiano newspaper.

“We know that the vast majority of us have been named in some way or another in relation to the scandal, but the meeting gives us a chance to know, clearly who, why and how this occurred, especially when we have asked the Defense Minister and President Santos to give a serious and forceful response to these events.”

Senate President Juan Fernando Cristo seconded Camelo’s sentiments, saying “ascertain which members of Congress and of the commission were being listened to.”

Revelations of military spying broke several weeks ago, when Colombia’s Semana magazine published the results of a 15-month investigation into a clandestine intelligence operations center in the capital of Bogota. The unit working out of the office, which fronted as an internet cafe and restaurant, used CIA funding and technology to monitor and record the communications of various parties involved in Colombia’s peace process, including journalists, politicians, and government and rebel delegates to the Havana talks.

Since the initial controversy surrounding the now-defunct Anrdomeda operation, little has been revealed regarding who within the military and government ordered the wiretappings or knew about the program. Disciplinary actions were expected to be taken last weekend, following the completion of internal government investigations, but news of a separate corruption scandal have drawn attention away from the wiretappings.

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Camelo, however, said he still expects “exhaustive investigation and rational results on the part Attorney General and Inspector Generals’ Offices,” the government bodies charged with criminal and administrative oversight, respectively.

In his opinion, those who had their communications monitored were “targeted by enemies of peace.” Uncovering the full extent of the program, he said, was vital to the continued progress of the peace talks, which began formally in November 2012 and have so far succeeded in producing agreements on two of six scheduled agenda items.

Other topics to be covered during the meeting will be recent developments in the peace process and the upcoming schedules of the commissions, according to El Colombiano.


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