Colombia’s president has abolished the nation’s 58-year-old domestic intelligence agency after it tapped phones to spy on Supreme Court judges, journalists and political opponents of former President Alvaro Uribe.
President Juan Manuel Santos had previously promised to replace the agency, known as DAS, with a new entity.
Since allegations of illegal spying surfaced in Colombian media in 2009, more than 20 officials from the intelligence agency have been arrested, several of them Uribe allies. In July, Uribe’s chief of staff, Bernardo Moreno, was jailed in connection to the chief federal prosecutor’s investigation of phone tapping. In September, former DAS chief Jorge Noguera was sentenced to 25 years in jail for allowing paramilitary death squads to infiltrate the agency and obtain intelligence on activists and union leaders who they later killed.
Other government institutions, including the Attorney General’s office, the police and the Foreign Ministry, will take over duties including responsibility for controlling immigration that had been assigned to the agency, Santos said in a statement yesterday.
In an interview with RCN Radio today, Uribe said he should have abolished the DAS when he was in office.
“I tried but I couldn’t,” said Uribe, who stepped down last year with an approval rating of 75 percent.
Still, the former president defended his embattled allies including former DAS chief Maria del Pilar Hurtado, who obtained political asylum in Panama to avoid a similar fate as Moreno.
“My government persecuted all criminals,” said Uribe. “Now some say the criminals are Bernardo Moreno and Maria del Pilar Hurtado. What an injustice.”