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Cablegate: Update On Illegal Wiretap Scandals

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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.

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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============================

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