The Committee to Protect Journalists welcomes the sentencing on Thursday by the Colombian Supreme Court of two former senior government officials for their roles in an illegal surveillance program. The program, which occurred while former President Álvaro Uribe was in office, involved spying on some of the country’s most prominent journalists as well as judges, human rights activists, and opposition politicians, according to news reports.
“We are pleased that there is finally accountability for one of the worst institutional threats to press freedom in Colombia of the past decade,” said Carlos Lauría, CPJ’s senior program coordinator for the Americas, from New York. “Authorities must continue their investigations so that all those responsible are brought to justice and ensure that it never happens again.”
María del Pilar Hurtado, the former head in 2007 and 2008 of the government’s intelligence agency–the now-defunct Department of Administrative Security (DAS)–was sentenced to 14 years in prison following her conviction in February for unlawful violation of communications as well as falsification of public documents, criminal conspiracy, embezzlement by appropriation, abuse of authority, and other charges, according to news reports. Hurtado fled to Panama in 2010, but turned herself over to Panamanian authorities earlier this year after her political asylum was revoked. She was deported back to Colombia.