Alleged army cyber spying on Colombia negotiators

2014-02-05 13:28
A scandal has engulfed South Korea's spy agency. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

A scandal has engulfed South Korea's spy agency. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Bogota - President Juan Manuel Santos said on Tuesday that enemies of his government's efforts to make peace with leftist rebels may have been behind reported spying by members of an elite army cyber-unit on the digital communications of government negotiators.

"This is totally unacceptable," Santos told reporters, saying he had ordered a full investigation. Hours later, two army generals were suspended from their posts.

Colombians had awakened to a report in the country's leading news magazine that the cyber spies, along with young civilian hackers they recruited, had for more than a year collected emails and text messages from Santos' negotiators at Havana peace talks.

"They were apparently gathering intelligence specifically from the negotiators," Santos said. He said the operation appeared aimed at derailing peace talks launched in November 2012 to end a half-century conflict with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or Farc.

Santos said a probe would determine "if rogue elements in the military" were allied with "dark forces" trying to undermine the talks.

Generals suspended

He said, without specifying when, that he had been informed that the eavesdropping's apparent centre of operations in the capital was searched last week.

The chief prosecutor, Eduardo Montealegre, said authorities seized 20 computers, memory sticks and other electronics in the raid on 24 January.

Late on Tuesday, the government announced that two generals were being relieved of duty during the investigation.

Defence Minister Juan Carlos Pinzon did not specify any relationship between the purported cyber spying and the two officers -  General Mauricio Zuniga, chief of army intelligence, and Gen Jorge Andres Zuluaga, director of the army's national intelligence centre.

Semana's report said the spy ring operated for 15 months ending in October from a clandestine storefront that sold cheap lunches and also billed itself as offering website design and cyber security classes.

The eavesdroppers did not intercept voice communications but were ordered to break into e-mail accounts and intercept messages from the popular WhatsApp service as well as obtain the Blackberry PINs of targets, the magazine said

Their targets included chief government negotiator Humberto de la Calle and peace commissioner Sergio Jaramillo as well as politicians not directly involved in the negotiations, including leftist congressman Ivan Cepeda and former Senator Piedad Cordoba, a key go-between with the Farc, Semana said. The eavesdroppers also were engaged in spying on urban rebels, the magazine said.
- AP
Read more on:    juan manuel santos  |  colombia  |  cybercrime
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining

Inside News24

 
/News

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Deal of the week!

Petrol generators from R1399, save up to R350. While stocks last. Shop now!

30% off Pampers!

Save 30% when you buy 3 or more selected pampers products. While stocks last. Shop now!

This week only - 30% off books!

Get 30% off when you buy 2 or more books. Many titles to choose from. While stocks last. Shop now!

New range of Samsung smartphones!

Samsung Galaxy A3, A5 and Alpha now available at kalahari.com. while stocks last. Shop now!

Buy 3 eBooks & only pay for 2!

The cheapest of the 3 titles will be free. Many more titles to choose from. While stocks last. Shop now!

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

There is a reactive and wilful undercurrent that flavours things today. There is a tendency to take things too personally and then...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.