Former Colombian President Illegally Wiretapped for Over a Month

From March 7 to April 9, all the conversations of former President Álvaro Uribe were tapped by the Attorney General's Office

CTI analyst Óscar Álvarez during his interrogation at the Prosecutor’s Office (YouTube).

Spanish – The Technical Investigation Body (CTI) official responsible for the wiretapping of former President Álvaro Uribe was interrogated in the Prosecutor’s Office bunker, revealing that the tapping had been done illegally. Analyst Óscar Álvarez indicated that he intercepted the phone, thinking it was that of the representative to the chamber, Nilton Córdoba.

Because of this “coincidence” from March 7 to April 9, 2018, all the conversations of the former president and Senator Uribe were heard by the Attorney General’s Office. After confirming that the person intercepted was not former representative Córdoba, Álvarez suggested to his superiors to put an end to the interception.

The wiretaps even include an interview that the natural leader of Uribism did on a radio station, where he is addressed as the former president and Senator Uribe. Therefore, there would be no doubt that the telephone of the person in question was Uribe and not Cordoba.

According to Semana magazine, the order was given directly from the office of Judge Jose Luis Barceló, and at the time, it was maintained that it was a legal interception, so they were transferred to former President Uribe’s file.

In an interview with Semana in September 2018, the magistrate said that “there was nothing illegal, nor was it a mistake.” According to Barceló, “it was set up in March of this year. And not much time passed. It was on March 22 when members of the Judicial Police and the investigative technicians informed the Court of the unforeseen and inevitable finding, and that is that the intercepted telephone number does not represent any importance because it has nothing to do with the facts that are grounds for investigation. Therefore, the interception was canceled.” According to Barceló, the number was not provided by the Supreme Court of Justice (CSJ) but by CTI investigators.

Álvarez claimed that the case manager, Clara López, ordered him to tap the phone that turned out to be that of former President Uribe. According to Álvarez, once he realized that the person intercepted was not representative Córdoba, he proceeded to verbally inform Clara López and the assistant judge of the Supreme Court of Justice (CSJ), Iván Cortes, and suggested the cancellation of the intercept “since the objective was not the one I had been told.”

Álvarez emphasized that on several occasions – both in person and by telephone – he informed his superiors that the person intercepted was not the subject of the investigation. Though the analyst reported that a week had passed between the assignment of the wiretap and the moment he suggested the cancellation of the wiretap, the interception continued. As for the date of the suspension of the wiretapping, the SJC files indicate that it would have been on April 4, but the file of the Prosecutor’s Office indicates that it was reportedly ordered on April 9.

Although the questioning of Álvarez does not define whether five days or a week passed between the order to listen to Uribe’s phone and the moment he announced the news to his superiors, it is clear that the interceptions continued for much longer since the first notice was given. The written report stating that the person intercepted was former President Uribe was delivered on March 14, that is, 21 to 28 days passed since it was formally known that the interceptions were illegal and the cancellation of the interceptions.

The interrogation of CTI analyst Óscar Álvarez raises several questions: Why didn’t Clara López and Judge Iván Cortes order the cancellation of the interception once it was proven that the intercepted cell phone was not that of Nilton Córdoba? Why did the Court affirm that these interceptions are legal? And why did it order their cancellation if they were legal?

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