Colombian secret police agency’s parting shot: fake NGOs

A deliberate strategy by Colombia’s former intelligence agency to undermine NGOs and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights has been revealed in secret documents. According to files discovered by Radio Caracol, the 2004 strategy by the Department of Administrative Security (DAS), dubbed “Operation Internet,” aimed to generate controversy through the creation of fake NGOs that released targeted information online. The strategy reported directly to the president, at that time Alvaro Uribe, and was taxpayer-funded. Rafael Nieto Loaiza, who had recently left his post as vice-minister of the Interior, and José Miguel Narvaez, DAS vice-director, are listed as “direct support centers” for the operation.

A fake group called the “Simón Bolívar Lawyers Collective” was in public “an NGO of human rights that integrates Latin American solidarity around fundamental principles.” But in a document entitled “Real Situation,” its true aim was revealed as “countering the threats represented by the manipulation” of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights—the body which enforces human rights law for the Organization of American States.

The “Truth and Justice Corporation” and the “Colombian Service of Information and Statistics,” both purportedly aimed at the prevention of conflict, were other fake NGOs with fake websites created by intelligence agents.

The DAS suffered several years of scandal before being dissolved by President Juan Manuel Santos earlier this year. Human rights abuses, illegal wiretapping and corruption all feature in its checkered history. (Colombia Reports, Dec. 7)

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