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BOGOTA, Colombia — Secret diplomatic cables revealed by WikiLeaks indicate that top aides to former President Alvaro Uribe may have ordered an illegal surveillance campaign against opposition politicians, journalists, human rights activists and Supreme Court justices.
In an October 2009 cable written by then U.S. Ambassador William Brownfield and published by WikiLeaks, the diplomat said that Colombia’s National Police commander suspected the wiretapping was ordered by Bernardo Moreno, who was then Uribe’s chief of staff, as well as another top aide, Jose Obdulio Gaviria. Brownfield’s information came from Oscar Naranjo, Colombia’s highly respected police chief who still holds the job.
“Though he had no proof, and at this time it was his mere conjecture (Naranjo) said he suspected Uribe’s Secretary of the Presidency Bernardo Moreno and possibly advisor Jose Obdulio Gaviria had ordered the illegal surveillance... This falls in the category of informed speculation, but speculation from (Naranjo) has a pretty good track record for success.”
The scandal at the intelligence agency, which is known as the DAS and is Colombia’s version of the FBI, has stained the image of Uribe, who stepped down in August. It could also mean indictments and trials for Moreno and several other close Uribe aides. Moreno and Gaviria are already under investigation by the Colombian Attorney General’s Office. In October, the Inspector General, an official charged with monitoring government corruption, ruled that the evidence against Moreno was so strong that he banned him from holding public office for the next 18 years.
But one top Colombian official may escape the long arm of the law. Last month, Uribe pulled strings to help Maria del Pilar Hurtado — a former DAS chief who would have been a key witness — gain political asylum in Panama.