JUDICIAL AFFAIRS

Pérez: President controlled surveillance

The former National Security Council executive secretary said a group that performed illegal surveillance reported directly to the Office of the Presidency.

Temas:

Former National Security Council Executive Director Gustavo Pérez told prosecutors yesterday that a specialized unit was in charge of illegal surveillance carried out by the agency and that they reported director to the Office of the Presidency.

Pérez, who has been jailed on charges related to the illegal surveillance, said the unit was directed by Ronny Rodríguez and William Pittí, both former Security Council officials who are still at large.

According to Pérez, while Rodríguez was his subordinate, he did not have any control over his activities, as his orders came from the president. 

"They were working alone," he said.

He also said the promotions that Rodríguez received came directly from the presidency.

The illegal surveillance took place during the administration of Ricardo Martinelli using equipment purchased from an Israeli contractor for $13.4 million. There were an estimated 150 victims, including opposition politicians, judges, journalists, business leaders and foreign diplomats.

Pérez said that he was not privy to the reports of the team, which were sent to the presidency. He did say that there were news reports about the victims that could be directly linked to the surveillance.

He said this program eventually led to his reassignment.

He also denied brokering the deal for the equipment, saying his office never participated in the negotiations.

Pérez is being held in La Gran Joya Prison, but he has asked prosecutors to place him under house arrest due to medical reasons. He said he suffers from high blood pressure and claustrophobia. He also said he does not feel safe since he is a former national police director.

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