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Colombia president denies ordering government agents to spy on judges, opponents

[JURIST] Colombian president Alvaro Uribe [official profile, in Spanish] on Monday denied ordering Department of Administrative Security (DAS) [official website, in Spanish] agents to conduct wiretaps on politicians, judges and journalists. Journalists from the Colombian magazine Semana [official website, in Spanish] were the first to publish the allegations, and have stated that certain recordings have already been destroyed. Some fear that remaining tapes may get into the hands of criminal organizations, including drug traffickers, paramilitary groups, or guerrillas. Also Monday, the headquarters of the DAS was searched in an attempt to discover who may have ordered and used the information obtained from the illegal wiretaps. Several top DAS officials have resigned due to the scandal, and two more deputy directors left the agency [AP report] on Tuesday.

This scandal is not the first to link Uribe with illegal wiretapping. Last year, Uribe and his administration were cleared of similar allegations [JURIST report] after claiming they were unaware of a plan to record journalists, opposition members, and government officials, and that they did not use the resulting transcripts. In March 2007, Colombian authorities arrested Jorge Noguera [CIP backgrounder], a former intelligence chief heading the DAS, on charges of murder and conspiracy for allegedly contracting with illegal paramilitary groups to assassinate political opponents, including human rights activists [JURIST reports] and union leaders. He resigned [BBC report] in October 2005 after he was taped while discussing plans to sell DAS intelligence data to paramilitary groups.

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