Complaint filed in Spain against former Colombian president

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Colombian human rights campaigners filed a complaint Tuesday in Madrid against former Colombian president Alvaro Uribe alleging his intelligence agents had targeted rights activists in Spain.

The complaint was prepared with the aid of rights group Justice for Colombia and it also targets Jorge Aurelio Noguera Cortes, the head of Colombia's DAS spying agency between 2002 and 2006 and a former subdirector of the agency, German Villalba Chavez.

"It is incredible, embarrassing, deplorable and I think reprehensible that Colombian intelligence services operated in Spain as it was their home," the group's spokesman, Francisco Perez Esteban, told a news conference.

"We cannot tolerate that this goes on in our territory, we cannot tolerate that Colombian refugees that arrive in Spain to flee persecution face new persecution on the part of the secret services."

The two men who filed the complaint fled to Spain because they felt their activism had put their lives in danger in Colombia.

They are among the roughly 20 people whom the group believes were spied on in Spain by the intelligence agency -- which reports directly to the Colombian presidency -- because of their work on behalf of human rights in Colombia.

The complaint is based on the results of an investigation in Colombia into the illegal wire-tapping there of human rights activists, journalists, judges and Uribe's political opponents that has implicated the former president's chief of staff.

Uribe is credited with beating back a guerilla insurgency, significantly reducing coca production and jump-starting the economy. But he has been heavily criticized by human rights activists for a series of alleged abuses.

He ended his 2002-2010 administration on August 7 with sky-high approval ratings.

The court where the complaint was filed must now decide whether or not to accept it.

Justice for Colombia lawyer Mauricio Ots said the three men cited in the complaint face charges of invasion of privacy which can be punished with jail terms of between one to four years.

He said complaints against more top Colombian officials over the alleged spying could be filed at a later date.

© 2010 AFP

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