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Viewing cable 09BOGOTA3185, UPDATE ON ILLEGAL WIRETAP SCANDALS

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09BOGOTA3185 2009-10-13 23:11 2011-02-23 06:06 SECRET//NOFORN Embassy Bogota
Appears in these articles:
http://www.elespectador.com/wikileaks
VZCZCXYZ0000
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHBO #3185/01 2862322
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
R 132322Z OCT 09
FM AMEMBASSY BOGOTA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0304
INFO RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC
RHMFISS/CDR USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL
RHMFISS/FBI WASHINGTON DC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
RUEAWJA/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHINGTON DC
RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA 0082
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS 0405
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON 0331
RUEHPE/AMEMBASSY LIMA 0409
RUEHQT/AMEMBASSY QUITO
RUEHZP/AMEMBASSY PANAMA 0404
S E C R E T BOGOTA 003185 

SIPDIS 
NOFORN 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 2034/10/13 
TAGS: PGOV PREL PTER PHUM PINR KJUS CO
SUBJECT: UPDATE ON ILLEGAL WIRETAP SCANDALS 

REF: A. BOGOTA 1618; B. BOGOTA 3035 

CLASSIFIED BY: Brian A. Nichols, Charge d'Affaires; REASON: 1.4(B), 
(C), (D) 

SUMMARY 

------- 



1. (S/NF) Colombian Government officials continue to engage in 
damage control in the wake of wiretap scandals embroiling the 
Administrative Department of Security (DAS) and the Prosecutor 
General's Office.  The Prosecutor General's Office is investigating 
alleged crimes by former DAS officials as well as the more recent 
illegal wiretaps.  In addition, the Prosecutor General's Office and 
Colombian National Police (CNP) have active probes into the misuse 
of the Prosecutor General's judicial intercept program known as the 
"Esperanza Platform."  Charge reiterated the USG desire for full 
and transparent investigations and offered U.S. assistance in 
carrying them out.  End Summary. 



MULTIPLE INVESTIGATIONS INTO THE UNFOLDING SCANDAL 

--------------------------------------------- ----- 



2. (C) Acting Prosecutor General Guillermo Mendoza announced on 
September 21 that an investigation had shown two prosecutors from 
his office -- not the DAS -- had been behind the illegal 
surveillance of Supreme Court auxiliary magistrate Ivan Velazquez. 
According to Mendoza, two prosecutors from his office inserted 
Velazquez's phone number into legal intercept requests in two 
unrelated cases.  The monitoring itself took place in the 
Prosecutor General's "Esperanza" judicial wiretap facility, said 
Mendoza.  Colombian National Police (CNP) Chief Oscar Naranjo
acknowledged that three CNP officers were involved in the charade, 
adding there was "no justification" for the monitoring."  The CNP 
judicial police (DIJIN) are aggressively investigating this aspect 
of the case, we have learned, but are waiting to arrest the 
suspects until the scope of the criminal links are discovered. 
The Prosecutor General's Technical Investigation Corps (CTI) is 
also conducting a separate investigation of these events. 



GOVERNMENT DEFENDS INTERCEPT CAPABILITIES 

----------------------------------------- 



3. (C) Top administration officials went on the offensive in the 
wake of these revelations.  President Uribe alleged a "criminal 
vendetta" to discredit the GOC at home and abroad, while Vice 
President Francisco Santos said the scandals proved there was a 
"well-orchestrated plot" aimed at undermining the GOC's ability to 
fight crime.  Minister of Interior and Justice Fabio Valencia told 
the press that "something smelled fishy" about the case and claimed 
the GOC had identified 12 companies that made and sold services for 
illegal wiretaps.  DAS Director Felipe Munoz publicly said there 
was a black market for illegal wiretaps fed by corruption among 
mobile phone providers and private detective agencies.  Munoz 
privately told us he had an "intuition" the recordings of Velazquez 
were aimed at embarrassing the administration, not to monitor the 
magistrate.  Vice Prosecutor General Fernando Pareja also opined 
that the motive behind the Esperanza cases was to distract from the 
DAS wiretap scandal by creating the public impression that 
"everyone is doing it." 



INVESTIGATING DAS WRONGDOINGS 

----------------------------- 



4. (S/NF) Vice Prosecutor General Pareja told the Charge on October 
9 that the Prosecutor General's office has broken down the DAS 
investigation into four parts, specifically: 



-- Acts perpetrated by DAS personnel prior to January 2005, when 
the old inquisitorial system (Law 600) was in effect.  Within this 
part are the allegations that former DAS Director Jorge Noguera, 
operating a secret operations cell named "G3," colluded with 
paramilitaries to instigate the murders of three unionists and a 
college professor.  Prosecutor Patricia Rodriguez said the CTI had 
obtained ample documentary evidence of the activities of the G3 
(ref A). 



-- Activities carried out after January 2005 that fall under the 
new accusatorial system (Law 906).  This investigation covers 
allegations against subsequent DAS Directors Andres PenateGiraldo
and Maria PilarHurtado, when the DAS' "Group of National and 
International Observation" (GONI) allegedly carried out 
surveillance of civil society and the political opposition. 
Rodriguez said this investigation had essentially been misdirected 
from the start earlier this year.  (Note:  Leading news weekly 
"Semana" reported that Acting Prosecutor General Guillermo Mendoza 
had removed two prosecutors for improperly charging two former 
senior DAS officials and 12 others under the old system and for 
blatantly overlooking important evidence.)  The new prosecutors had 
to begin from scratch, said Rodriguez.  The investigation into 
these later crimes, she said, is more technical in nature, 
involving the exploitation of computer hard drives, etc., and will 
be more difficult given the higher evidentiary standards of the 
accusatorial system (ref B). 



-- Without elaborating, Pareja said Mendoza had retained two of the 
DAS cases for his personal handling, presumably related to the 
irregularities mentioned above. 



INVESTIGATION INTO "ESPERANZA" ABUSES PROCEEDS 

--------------------------------------------- - 



5. (S/NF) Regarding the investigation into the "Esperanza 
Platform," Pareja said investigators were focused on how calls by 
Supreme Court Auxiliary Magistrate Ivan Velazquez -- the lead 
investigator of the links between members of Congress and the 
paramilitaries -- were leaked just nine days later to "Semana." 
Pareja noted that two separate listening rooms, one operated by CTI 
on behalf of the Colombian Army and the other by the Colombia 
National Police (CNP) anti-kidnapping group, had executed two 
legally authorized intercept orders on Velazquez in August.  When a 
CTI analyst recognized Velazquez as a magistrate, the surveillance 
ended, only to be re-established by the CNP listening room the next 
day.  Pareja said investigators had concluded that the intercept of 
the U.S. judicial attache speaking to Velazquez was "incidental," 
and not an action specifically targeted at a U.S. official.  He 
noted that a second number was illegally piggy-backed onto 
authorized wiretap orders, this one belonging to Alexandria 
Valencia, a prosecutor assigned to the Inspector General's Office 
investigating the DAS scandal. 



6. (S/NF) Pareja said that the Prosecutor General's Office had 
detected a total of 23 intercepts that were suspected of being 

improperlyauthorizedvia Esperanza.  Pareja, a Bogotamagistrate
whom Mendoza appointed in August as his number two, expressed 
surprise at the widespread access by government agencies to the 
Esperanza Platform.  He was shocked, for example, at the public 
revelation that the Inspector General's Office had maintained its 
own listening room between 1996 and January 2009, unbeknownst to 
the Judicial and Executive branches.  He was also taken aback that 
the City of Medellin had been hosting a listening room for 
prosecutors investigating organized crime in that city.  He said 
both he and Mendoza were concerned about their own criminal and 
political liability for a system ostensibly under their control but 
with diverse points of access.  He said the Acting Prosecutor 
General had ordered engineers to conduct a review of Esperanza and 
every listening room as a precaution and would make procedural 
changes to strengthen government oversight. 



7. (C) The CDA urged the Acting Vice Fiscal to press the 
investigations under its purview so as to present a complete 
accounting of the wiretap scandals.  The CDA offered the U.S. 
Embassy's assistance in achieving this goal, including the 
re-vetting of Colombian personnel working in DAS or with access to 
Esperanza who facilitate information-sharing with the United 
States.



8. (S/NF) CNP investigators told us October 13 that they have 
uncovered possible links among former DAS officials and the CNP 
officers who falsified the affidavits necessary to obtain the 
intercept warrants used to tap magistrate Ivan Velasquez' 
telephone.  The CNP is following links among those responsible to 
determine how far the criminal conspiracy extends, before making 
arrests. 
NICHOLS 

=======================CABLE ENDS============================