Electoral dirty tactics marred this year’s voteMonday, August 25, 2014
Colombian hacker admits to spying on Santos for Uribe
BOGOTÁ — A Colombian hacker who unwittingly became a part of the country’s last presidential election admitted yesterday to the existence of a secret espionage campaign against President Juan Manuel Santos, authorized by the Democratic Centre party of former president Álvaro Uribe.
Andrés Fernando Sepúlveda, who, when arrested in May on charges of spying became instantly famous in Colombia, said over the weekend that an intelligence unit of the Colombian Army had monitored President Juan Manuel Santos’ email. In an interview, the hacker finally came clean and admitted to a secret programme.
“Andromeda” was the name of an intelligence front operation used by the military to conduct legal spying but it was closed down when it was discovered that its personnel were also conducting illegal activities. Santos acknowledged early this year that some of his personal emails had been hacked.
“The objective was to know what the president was doing, how he did it, when he did it... they always told me that they had also monitored his daughter (María Antonia),” he told Semana magazine in an interview published yesterday.
This year’s presidential vote in Colombia was marred by dirty tactics from both sides, as Santos faced off in a runoff vote against presidential challenger Oscar Ivan Zuluaga — Uribe’s handpicked candidate from the Democratic Centre.
In February, the Technical Investigation Body of the Prosecutor’s Office raided an intelligence unit in Bógota based at Democratic Centre offices and discovered that the Army had also been spying on Humberto de la Calle, the head of the government’s team in the negotiations with FARC, and Sergio Jaramillo, High Commissioner for Peace, in a bid to derail the country’s controversial peace talks with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia.
Sepúlveda gained notoriety after he was arrested later in May. The hacker now admits that he had sought to garner information to turn public opinion against the government. In the interview, he also confirms that the the Uribe-founded Democratic Centre was behind the espionage. He says he was authorized to attack anything that was not compatible with the ideas of Uribismo.
That, according to the interview, included attacking other politicians such as Attorney General Eduardo Montealegre and Bogotá Mayor Gustavo Petro and other prominent personalities within Colombian society.
Uribe has denied any connection with the hacker, claiming Santos had devised the hacking as an elaborate cover to distract from allegations his team used drug money.
Herald with AP, Télam