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The use of counter-intelligence as a method of persecution to achieve social and political control.

On June 9, 2009 between 22.30 and 23.30 local time in Bogotá, Senator Gustavo Petro made a parliamentary speech before the Senate in the Republic of Colombia.

For the purpose of his speech, Senator Petro made use of a series of documents to which Radio Nizkor has had access and which detail the systematic persecution carried out by the Colombian intelligence service known as the Adminstrative Department of Security (DAS) which reports functionally to the Presidency of the Republic.

According to the documentation, there exist 103 folders detailing counter-intelligence operations organized by a group called G3 against a series of human rights organizations, investigative journalists and superior court judges.

Senator Petro's speech mentions only some examples - albeit dramatic ones - but only a fraction of what is contained in this documentation.

The importance of the documents which have been made public is that they are irrefutable evidence of the persecution and harassment endured by those who directly or indirectly came within the ambit of the counterintelligence operations run by specialists of the Colombian War Navy and financed by a foreign state. The state is not identified in the documents.

One preliminary conclusion is that the military and civilian general staff who directed the said operations received express orders to incorporate human rights organisations, investigative journalists and superior court judges in their war plans and therefore they were to be considered "targets"; some were even specific "objectives" as in the case of our own correspondent in Colombia, Claudia Julieta Duque, who was the victim of this kind of treatment from 2001 until at least 2008.

The Constitutional Court's response to an action for injunctive relief (Acción de Tutela) filed by Claudia Julieta Duque was to issue a judgement which expressly acknowledged the rights on which she could rely, including that of freedom of information in her work as a journalist and as a member of an international human rights organization. The judgement ordered the DAS to surrender all the documents in its files relating to her case.

The DAS did not comply with the judgement and in two letters denied the existence of any such documents in its files. Today we know that there are hundreds of documents in the possession of the Prosecutor's Office and that they were handed over by the same entity which denied their existence.

The counter-intelligence operations form part of what is considered "offensive intelligence" and their aim is to eliminate "objectives" using all kinds of human, technical and military support. As these cases have established, they entail the reconstruction of the entire social and family network of the victims of the persecution.

There is no doubt that the consequence of this type of clandestine and illegal operation is the manipulation of the facts, the alteration of social systems and the destruction of those organizations which are considered "targets". Given the period of time they have persisted - more than ten years - they affect the families and the children of the victims and compel the organisations involved to take courses of action which they would not otherwise do if they were free from DAS counter-intelligence harassment.

Neither is there any doubt that this persecution included interception of all communications (fixed telephone lines, mobiles, faxes, microphones in offices, electronic mails, computer access, robbery of digital documents and the installation of microphones in the private homes of those persecuted) as well as permanent surveillance of the victims of such operations and their families and friends.

These operations even covered the foreign travel of those affected. To achieve this, according to the documents, all possible methods were used to "block" the victims' activities in foreign countries for example by: photographic surveillance at airports and at meetings with other persons and foreign organizations, requests to deny entry visas in the European Union and in the United States and even harassment operations in other countries using either their own resources or in collaboration with foreign intelligence organisations.

In view of this, from a legal point of view, we believe that Senator Petro's description of these activities as "crimes against humanity" is correct, given that they were organized systematically and on a widespread basis and undoubtedly constitute acts of social and political persecution.

From a criminal point of view there is ample evidence of these acts of persecution, and these cases can be distinguished qualitatively from the situation in other countries where the use of counter-intelligence techniques for social and political control is evident but where the level of evidence is poor or non-existent.

There now remains, therefore, the time-consuming task of carrying out an appropriate investigation to identify the liability of the members of the G3 operations group (all of whom are readily recogniseable in the documentation now in the possession of the Prosecutor's Office), as well as that of those in the hierarchy of this unit and those responsible for its activities - in particular the person in command of them all, President Uribe.

Belgium and Bogotá, 18 June 2009

By Gregorio Dionis; an editorial by Radio Nizkor used in part as an introduction to the audio document concerning the parliamentary speech of Senator Petro. Gregorio Dionis is President of Equipo Nizkor and Radio Nizkor.

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small logoThis document has been published on 19Jun09 by the Equipo Nizkor and Derechos Human Rights. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.