Colombia: military, CIA spying on peace talks

Colombia’s Defense Minister Juan Carlos Pinzón announced Feb. 4 that an investigation will be opened into claims of eavesdropping on both government and rebel delegations to ongoing peace talks with the FARC guerilla group. The revelations were published in weekly Semana the day before. Based on 15 months of reports from an unnamed inside source, Semana concluded that a Colombian military intelligence unit funded and coordinated by the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) monitored the text messages and e-mails of representatives of both the government and the FARC involved in the Havana peace negotiations. Under the code name "Andromeda," the military's Technical Intelligence Battalion, or BITEC 1, operated a "gray chamber" to monitor the intercepted communications underneath a bar and restaurant in Bogotá, according to Semana. Opposition lawmaker Iván Cepeda dismissed the investigation, saying that only Pinzón himself could have ordered the eavesdropping, and that he should resign immediately. (Colombia Reports, Feb. 4)

A scandal over spying on the internal political opposition resulted in the disbanding in 2011 of Colombia's Administrative Security Department (DAS).