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February 05, 2014

Colombia nabs Colombia spying on Colombia

There's something very  Philip K. Dickian about this latest spying scandal in Colombia. 

BOGOTA, Colombia -- In an escalating scandal that could lay bare the deep divisions in this Andean nation, President Juan Manuel Santos on Tuesday ordered a thorough investigation into allegations that factions within the army might be spying on the government’s own peace negotiators in Havana.

Santos ordered his staff to find the “dark forces” that may be trying to “sabotage” the peace talks, which aim to end the 50-year civil conflict with the country’s largest guerrilla group.

The announcement came after Semana.com, one of the country’s most respected media outlets, reported late Monday that the army was working with civilian hackers to break into the email and text-message accounts of government peace negotiators, including chief negotiator Humberto de la Calle.

“Who could be interested in investigating, in recording, in intercepting our peace negotiators?” Santos asked during a meeting with the national police. “What dark forces are behind this?”

The secret spying office, called “’Andromeda,” operated out of a commercial district in Bogotá and was disguised as a restaurant and a computer lab. The office was set up in 2012 and operated for more than a year before being shut down by judicial authorities in late January, Semana.com reported.

The article was the result of a 15-month investigation and relied heavily on anonymous sources, but no high government official has suggested that it’s false.

Fernando Hernández, the director of the Corporación Nuevo Arco Iris, which studies the Colombian conflict, called the allegations “extremely serious.”

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jim wyss

Inside South America is written by Jim Wyss, the South America bureau chief for the Miami Herald and McClatchy Newspapers.

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