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Colombia minister admits illegal wiretapping program

[JURIST] Colombian Defense Minister Juan Manuel Santos [official profile, in Spanish] acknowledged Tuesday the existence of an illegal police wiretapping program that had targeted journalists, members of the opposition and government, but insisted that Colombian President Alvaro Uribe [official profile, in Spanish; BBC profile] and his administration were unaware of the program and did not utilize transcripts created by the wiretapping. The scope of the illegal wiretapping also included monitoring leftist politician and runner up in the May 2006 presidential elections Carlos Gaviria Diaz of the Polo Democratico Alternativo [party website, in Spanish]. Uribe has forced the resignation of national police chief Gen. Jorge Daniel Castro, the police intelligence chief, and forced the early retirement of 10 other police generals over the wiretapping.

Sen. Juan Fernando [party profile], spokesperson for the opposition Colombian Liberal Party [party website], doubted the Uribe administration's claim that it did not authorize or benefit from the wiretapping. Last May, Uribe was overwhelmingly reelected for a second presidential term, becoming the first president of Colombia [JURIST news archive] to be reelected for a second term in recent history. AP has more.

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