NATIONAL SECURITY

Investigation requested into alleged spying on former president

Allegations have been made that former President Ricardo Martinelli was the victim of illegal surveillance.

There is evidence that illegal wiretaps were conducted during his administration.

Temas:

National Security Council Executive Secretary Rolando Lopez has asked the Attorney General to investigate claims that the agency is conducting illegal surveillance of former President Ricardo Martinelli using equipment purchased during the administration of Martín Torrijos.

The claims were made by an anonymous witness Jan. 26 on the TV channel Nextv, and subsequently published in the newspapers La Critica and Panama America Jan. 27.

The witness said that equipment purchased by the agency during the Torrijos government is being used to "pursue political cases against former President Ricardo Martinelli."

In a letter to Attorney General Kenia Porcel, Lopez urged the prosecutor to initiate an investigation and to take the appropriate action. He said it is his duty to inform the authorities when an allegation of a crime has been made to ensure the integrity, credibility and morale of the institution and its partners.

He added that an equipment inventory completed by the agency when he took office in July did not include any such equipment.

Lopez filed a criminal complaint in December against former Security Council Executive Secretary Alejandro Garúz, who served during the Martinelli administration, related to the disappearance of surveillance equipment the agency purchased in 2010. The equipment was purchased from an Israeli contractor for $13.4 million with funds from the NationaL Assistance Program (PAN).

In that complaint, Lopez reported that Garúz never reported the existence of this equipment in his inventory of agency assets.

Both Garuz and fellow former Executive Secretary Gustavo Pérez are being held in La Gran Joya Prison on charges related to illegal surveillance. Prosecutors say there are records related to intercepted communications of about 150 people.

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