US to stop funding scandal-prone Colombian spy agency

The US Congress has voted to stop subsidizing Colombia’s soon-to-be dismantled Administrative Department of Security (DAS – Departamento Administrativo de Seguridad) intelligence agency.

The Colombian government recently decided to disband DAS, after it was found to have illegally wiretapped the phones of several public figures, including the chief of the Colombian National Police (Policía Nacional de Colombia), the Minister of National Defense, as well as those of former Presidents, Supreme Court judges, prominent journalists, union leaders and human rights campaigners.

The activities of the scandal-prone agency had not, until now, affected US-Colombian relations, nor had they dampened US-Colombian intelligence cooperation. But, in a surprising development, the US Consolidated Appropriations Act for 2010 bars DAS from receiving US funds related to law enforcement training and anti-narcotics trafficking operations. The Act explicitly connects the aid suspension with “reports that the DAS has repeatedly engaged in phone tapping, email interception, and other illegal activities against law-abiding citizens, including collusion with illegal armed groups”. It is worth noting that the aid suspension applies to DAS’ possible successor organizations.

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