Posts Tagged ‘surveillance program’

Colombia: impunity does not always prevail

May 7, 2015

Colombia‘s Supreme Court sentenced the former head of the country’s secret police to 14 years in prison for spying on officials and journalists. Maria del Pilar Hurtado committed the offenses between 2007 and 2008, targeting political opponents of then-President Alvaro Uribe. UPI reports on 1 May 2015 that a number of human rights organizations, including the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and Oxfam Solidariteit, applauded the convictions, saying it “confirms the existence of a system of espionage, persecution, harassment and threats against opponents, judges, journalists and human rights defenders, designed and organized at the highest levels of Alvaro Uribe Velez’s government.”

[When the allegations surfaced in 2010, Hurtado sought asylum in Panama. Her asylum was later revoked and she turned herself in to Colombian authorities in January. Uribe’s former chief of staff, Bernardo Moreno, was also convicted for his role in the illegal wire taps and was sentenced to eight years of house arrest Uribe has denied any knowledge of the illegal acts. He announced via Twitter on Thursday that he would appear before the Supreme Court on May 5 to answer questions.]

14-year prison sentence for Colombia’s ex-secret police chief –

Whistle-blowers and HRDs serve democratic principles says U.N. expert

September 19, 2013

On 11  September, 2013 UPI in Geneva carried an interesting but surprisingly-little-noticed item under the title “U.N. expert says whistle-blowers serve democratic principles“:  Human rights defenders and whistle-blowers need protection in order to ensure democratic and international order, a rights envoy said from Geneva. Alfred de Zayas, U.N. special envoy in equitable order, told the U.N. Human Rights Council access to “truthful and reliable” information from diverse sources is essential for people to play an effective role in public affairs. German protesters gathered last weekend for an event dubbed “Freedom Not Fear.” Tens of thousands of demonstrators turned out in Berlin to rally against the U.S. National Security Agency and Britains signals intelligence program gathering of databases of peoples email, online chat and Internet browsing histories without prior court authorization. “I am dismayed that notwithstanding lip service to democracy, too many governments seem to forget that in a democracy, it is the people who are sovereign,” de Zayas said in his prepared remarks Wednesday. NSA contractor Edward Snowden was granted temporary asylum in Moscow. He faces charges in the United States, including two espionage-related counts, for leaking information about a surveillance program dubbed Prism. De Zayas said human rights defenders and whistle-blowers deserve “specific protection” from prosecution. [They] have in some contexts been accused of being unpatriotic, whereas they perform, in reality, a democratic service to their countries and to the enjoyment of human rights of their compatriots,” he said.

via U.N. expert says whistle-blowers serve democratic principles –

As asked in another blog : Are whistle blowers heroes or villains? : “Private Chelsea nee Bradley Manning,  Julian Assange.  Edward Snowden.  They have all claimed that their actions are for the public good.  The Establishment says that they are all a risk to national security.  That brings up the thorny issue of Free speech v security. Were lives put at risk because of the leaks?  If so, is that a price worth paying?  Are they moral crusaders?  Or are they recklessly endangering national security? Should we even conflate whistle blowing with security?  Was national security ever really at risk?  Or is that a cop-out from our leaders because they are embarrassed about what is being leaked?  Then we have to ask the question – is there a difference between a corporate whistle-blower and one that works for the government?  If so, why?  Whistle blowers.  Good or Bad?  Heroes or Villains?”