Until a few months ago, the Colombian Army spied on at least 130 people, including national and foreign journalists who regularly cover the armed conflict and military corruption, Semana magazine revealed on Friday.
Among the journalists who were the subject of computer monitoring are several Americans, such as The New York Times correspondent Nick Casey; freelance photographer Stephen Ferry, and Lynsey Addario, who has worked for various international media.
According to the edition of the magazine that will be released this Saturday, the espionage took place between February and December 2019, and in addition to the journalists, the military also carried out computer monitoring of "former ministers, Presidential officials, generals, politicians, and trade unionists, among others ", of whom they made profiles that included even family and social contacts.
Semana, who had access to dozens of documents and interviewed more than ten sources, also denounced that "the units involved received financial aid from a foreign intelligence agency."
In addition, he assures that "part of those resources ended up being used to acquire the tools to spy on the activities of US citizens, particularly journalists."
"That foreign intelligence agency gave cyber intelligence battalions approximately $ 400,000 annually to acquire computer equipment and tools," the investigation details.
INTERNATIONAL JOURNALISTS AT LA MIRA
Nick Casey, one of the journalists subjected to illegal follow-ups called "profiles", denounced in May 2019 in The New York Times that the Colombian Army had ordered the troop to increase operational results, putting the lives of civilians at risk. as it happened with the extrajudicial executions known as "false positives".
At the time, the Army commander was General Nicacio Martínez, who retired at the end of last year, and during his tenure was severely questioned for his alleged lack of commitment to human rights.
According to the magazine, "the military monitored the steps of that journalist (Casey) in the country in a folder where they had his contacts, some sources and the people he was related to, and even his own editors from New York appear."
In that search for information, the publication reveals, the uniforms reached other journalists including Juan Forero, from the Wall Street Journal, and John Otis, correspondent in Latin America for National Public Radio (NPR) and investigator of the Committee for the Protection of Journalists (CPJ).
Photojournalist Lynsey Addario also appears in the folders, who in February took some photographs of the guerrilla of the National Liberation Army (ELN) in the department of Chocó that were published in a National Geographic report.
"The profiling ended with a domino effect in which three other New York Times photographers living in the United States are referenced, and Stephen Ferry, another well-known photojournalist in Colombia," the magazine said.
LIST OF COLOMBIAN JOURNALISTS
According to the publication, the Army also carried out computer monitoring of national journalists, including the news analyst Caracol María Alejandra Villamizar, from whom "the military collected their phones, addresses, emails, vehicles, the place where they vote, and even violations of transit he committed. "
The investigation also reveals that there is a folder for The League Against Silence, a medium created four years ago at the initiative of the Foundation for Press Freedom (FLIP).
"There are recognized journalists such as Ignacio Gómez, deputy director of Noticias Uno, and Gina Morelo, editor of the El Tiempo data unit," the magazine details.
There are also references to RCN Radio news director Yolanda Ruiz and Daniel Coronell, columnist and president of Univisión news.
Independent media such as Routes of Conflict, specialized in investigations related to corruption and public order, made up of a dozen communicators under the age of 30, were also subject to these follow-ups.
POLICIES AND HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS
A profile of Human Rights Watch executive director for the Americas, José Miguel Vivanco, also appears in documents known to the magazine.
Vivanco told Semana that "the serious allegations that the Army carries out illegal interceptions and produces intelligence on journalists, judges and human rights lawyers are repeated year after year in Colombia."
Political leaders also appear, such as opposition senators Gustavo Bolívar, Angélica Lozano and Antonio Sanguino, and even officials of the current government, such as the ex-secretary general of the Presidency, Jorge Mario Eastman, as well as retired military personnel.
In January, the magazine had reported other cases of follow-ups and interceptions, including to journalists from the same publishing house.