Colombia president restricts wiretapping following scandal

[JURIST] Colombian President Alvaro Uribe [official profile, in Spanish; BBC profile] on Thursday Department of Administrative Security (DAS) [official website, in Spanish] will no longer be able to conduct wiretapping operations with just a court order, and will now require the cooperation of the National Police [official website, in Spanish]. This order follows allegations that the DAS illegally recorded the conversations of Supreme Court magistrates, media directors, and politicians from the opposition. According to Uribe, the police will need to verify the legality of the requests and will act as a check on the power of national intelligence gathering, improving transparency. DAS Director Felipe Munoz has acknowledged the existence [Colombia Reports report] of evidence supporting the allegations. Intelligence Director Fernando Tabares resigned Thursday, the fourth intelligence official to resign in the midst of the scandal.

On Monday, Uribe denied [JURIST report] ordering any of the illegal wiretaps. Last year, Uribe and his administration were cleared of similar allegations [JURIST report] after claiming they were unaware of a plan to record journalists, opposition members, and government officials. The scandal comes at an inopportune time for Colombian officials, as Defense Minister Juan Manuel Santos and Foreign Minister Jaime Bermudez are trying to convince [LA Times interview] the Obama administration to continue funding an anti-drug initiative [Reuters report] despite human rights violations, corruption and a failure to reduce cocaine production.

 

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