Colombia’s former intelligence chief, Laude José Fernández Arroyo has been detained and is currently under house arrest; having been charged with illegally wiretapping ACDAC, the pilot’s union that had been involved in a bitter strike with Avianca during 2017. Fernández headed the infamous DAS, Colombia’s conflict-era internal intelligence agency that was disbanded in 2011 after a scandal and violations of civil liberties were uncovered.
Recent allegations, tied to the 2017 strike action by ACDAC that was eventually ruled illegal by Colombian courts, were that Fernandez, now in private life and with no official affiliation, relied upon a network of retired army and police officers to wiretap and intercept communications of the pilot’s union.
The corrupt network is said to consist of Roberto Carlos Montenegro from the prosecutor’s office, and Luis Carlos Gómez. The troika is accused of intercepting telephone calls, emails, even Whatsapp messages, with additional help from retired colonel Jorge Humberto Salinas and computer hacker Maria Alicia Pinzón.
Avianca strongly disavows any involvement with the wiretaps, though it admits hiring Fernández’s “Berkeley Research Group” for the purposes of investigating fraud. Of course it is difficult to speculate on the utility of such information to any other party. To Avianca’s credit, since the allegations have been leveled, Avianca has replaced its chairman, CEO, and reconstituted its board of directors.