Panama rejected on Friday a request from Colombia to extradite former spy chief Maria del Pilar Hurtado, who faces charges in Bogota over an illegal wiretapping scandal.
The foreign ministry cited the Inter-American Convention on Human Rights, an international accord on asylum and Panamanian law as reasons for denying Colombia’s request.
The ministry also noted an executive order issued last November by Panama’s president granting asylum to Hurtado, who fled Colombia in the fall of 2010.
Currently enjoying asylum in Panama are former presidents of Guatemala, Jorge Serrano Elias; and Ecuador, Abdala Bucaram; as well as erstwhile Haitian military strongman Raoul Cedras.
Hurtado is accused of criminal conspiracy, illegal wiretapping, diversion of public funds and falsifying documents. She led the DAS security agency from August 2007 to October 2008 and is one of several former directors to be charged in the scandal.
A former senior DAS official said in December 2010 that the main intended recipient of transcripts of the illegal telephone intercepts was Alvaro Uribe, Colombia’s president from August 2002 to August 2010.
William Romero said Hurtado instructed him and other DAS agents to spy on Supreme Court justices, assuring her subordinates that the order came from Uribe.
The targets of the warrantless wiretapping by DAS, which reports directly to the office of the president, also included opposition politicians, journalists and political activists, some of them foreign nationals who visited Colombia.