Thursday, December 22, 2005
Peru is where Alberto Fujimori, Latin America's version of the hard-nosed, super-competent super-executive that George W. Bush was supposed to be, was running his own version of quasi-dictatorship and domestic spying. And now he's paying the price for it:
Early on in Fujimori’s first term, the government started tapping the phones of a large number of Peruvian citizens, including journalists, members of civil society, and politicians. Sophisticated phone tapping equipment was set up in various buildings rented throughout the city of Lima, and specialized personnel were assigned to start intercepting and transcribing calls. Such large-scale interception of private calls not only subverted the rule of law, but facilitated the Fujimori government’s concentration of power and erosion of democratic institutions.
Fujimori has been charged before Peruvian courts with planning and implementing, in conjunction with Montesinos and others, the illegal phone tapping scheme. He has also been charged with using state resources for the purchase of the phone tapping equipment and to pay the personnel who conducted the tapping.
There is strong evidence pointing to Fujimori’s direct involvement in the scheme. Montesinos, for example, has testified as to his participation in the scheme, stating that it was all ordered by Fujimori.34 He has also stated that the equipment was purchased and the personnel were paid with funds from each of the armed forces, as well as the SIN, with Fujimori’s authorization.35 These statements have been corroborated by Matilde Pinchi Pinchi, Montesinos’s former assistant and accountant, who has testified that on numerous occasions she saw Fujimori order Montesinos to intercept specific phones of congressmen, journalists, and others. She has also testified that Montesinos kept Fujimori informed about the transcripts of the intercepted calls.36
Other witnesses have testified that one phone tapping center was even set up in the Palace of Government, following Fujimori’s direct orders.37 Army Brigade General Gerardo Luis Pérez del Águila, who served as the head of the Military House outside of the Palace of Government, has testified that when he discovered the equipment’s presence in the Palace, he ordered that it be disconnected, but then received specific orders from Fujimori to reinstall the equipment.38
Numerous technicians who conducted the tapping have testified as to their activities, giving specific names of politicians and journalists whose calls they intercepted.39 Equipment used to conduct the tapping has also been recovered and identified.40
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