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  • Digital spy sitting in front of a computer, 2020.

    Digital spy sitting in front of a computer, 2020. | Photo: Twitter/ @BluRadioCo

Published 2 May 2020

A foreign intelligence agency provided annual financing to the Colombian "cyber battalions".

The magazine Semana Friday published a special investigation showing that the Colombian Army spied on journalists who were reporting on the armed conflict and military corruption.

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Foreign journalists who were monitored by Colombian security forces include the New York Times correspondent Nick Casey, freelance photographer Stephen Ferry, and Lynsey Addario.

Between February and December 2019, the military also carried out computer monitoring of former ministers, presidential officials, generals, politicians, and trade unionists. This secret activity included spying on their family and social contacts.

"The army units involved were receiving financial aid from a foreign intelligence agency," Semana magazine holds, explaining that part of those financial resources was used to acquire the tools to spy on U.S. citizens.

"That foreign intelligence agency provided the Colombian cyber intelligence battalions with approximately US$400,000 annually to acquire computer equipment and tools."​​​​​​​

In May 2019, through an article published in the New York Times, Nick Casey denounced that the Colombian Army's high command had ordered its troops to "increase operational results."

This request involved putting civilian lives at risk, as was the case with the extrajudicial executions known as "false positives."

At that time, the Colombian army was commanded by General Nicacio Martinez, who retired after his management was severely questioned for his lack of commitment to human rights.​​​​​​​

Semana also revealed that Colombian cyber battalions spied on Wall Street Journal’s reporter Juan Forero and the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) researcher John Otis.

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