Colombia court to investigate ex-President Uribe's alleged ties to hacking

BOGOTA (Reuters) - Colombia’s Supreme Court said on Tuesday it would investigate former President Alvaro Uribe’s possible connections to a scandal involving alleged military spying on journalists, politicians and judges.

FILE PHOTO: Colombia's former president Alvaro Uribe, speaks during a news conference after a private hearing at Supreme Court of Justice, in Bogota, Colombia October 8, 2019. REUTERS/Luisa Gonzalez/File Photo

The hacking, which came to light in January, has led to the ouster of 11 unnamed military officials and the resignation of a general. The chief of the armed forces has vowed to hold those involved responsible.

There have been repeated hacking scandals involving the Colombian military in recent years, including accusations that negotiators at peace talks with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) rebels were spied on.

Previous investigations have not yet led to convictions.

Uribe, a polarizing figure who is now a senator, has been repeatedly investigated for a variety of crimes, including alleged witness tampering.

“Based on an accusation, the Supreme Court has opened a preliminary investigation against Senator Alvaro Uribe, as a possible recipient of information from illegal spying by military intelligence in 2019,” the court said on Twitter.

Uribe, who was president from 2002 to 2010, roundly rejected the investigation.

“Another preliminary investigation because of an anonymous coward who says I’m the beneficiary of the reports,” he said on Twitter.

“Because of that same anonymous person another magistrate has investigated me since January in the case of the hacker from 2014,” Uribe said, referring to an earlier hacking scandal involving that year’s presidential election.

One of the alleged hacking victims is a former secretary of the presidency who worked closely with President Ivan Duque, a protege of Uribe.

Duque and his defense minister have rejected the alleged spying and said illegal conduct within the military would not be tolerated.

Reporting by Julia Symmes Cobb; Editing by Peter Cooney