Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos on Tuesday ordered a thorough investigation of charges that the military spied on his government's delegates to peace talks with leftist FARC rebels.
"These dark forces that are trying to sabotage processes like the peace process, do they have internal contacts? What are they seeking? That is what I want to be thoroughly investigated," said Santos after meeting with Defense Minister Juan Carlos Pinzon.
The president said he told Pinzon and the armed forces and police commanders to look into "where this illicit use of intelligence could have (come from), who can be interested in taping and intercepting (the conversations of) our peace negotiators."
"What is not acceptable from any point of view is for that intelligence to be used against legitimate common and ordinary citizens, and even less so against officials of the state itself," Santos said.
The case came to light via the newsweekly Semana, which said it began working on the story 15 months ago.
A military intelligence group intercepted communications from a storefront in Bogota that operated as a restaurant and cybercafe, the magazine said.
Among the people spied upon are the government's chief negotiator in the Havana talks, Humberto de la Calle, Peace Commissioner Sergio Jaramillo and the director of the Colombian Agency for Reintegration, Alejandro Eder, a source told Semana.
In addition, there was an order to intercept the communications of long-time targets such as former Sen. Piedad Cordoba and leftist congressman Ivan Cepeda.
Santos said that "my hand didn't shake" in dismantling the now-defunct DAS security agency after it was found to have engaged in massive illegal spying during the 2002-2010 tenure of President Alvaro Uribe and he added that it will not tremble in this case either. EFE