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Paraguay summons US ambassador: who wasn’t spied or followed?

Tuesday, November 30th 2010 - 05:35 UTC
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US ambassador in Asunción Lilian Ayalde US ambassador in Asunción Lilian Ayalde

Paraguay's Foreign Minister, Héctor Lacognata, summoned US Ambassador in Asunción Liliana Ayalde to express the concerns raised among the Paraguayan government after Wikileaks reported that US diplomats have been conducting numerous espionage activities within the country.

After the meeting, Ayalde told reporters that she was carrying “a note handed by the Lacognata in which the Paraguayan government expresses its concerns about the documents leaked.”

According to Wikileaks, during 2008 and on the verge of that year's presidential elections, ”the US State Department had asked to spy and adopt prompt measures on presidential candidates Fernando Lugo (current president), Blanca Ovelar, former General Lino Oviedo, and Luis Castiglioni, who was Paraguay's Vice President by that time.”

Then US was particularly interested in knowing if the presidential candidates, political parties or interest groups had received material or financial support “from foreign governments especially Cuba and Venezuela”. The March 2008 message, a month before Paraguayan elections, showed great interest in knowing Venezuela’s role in the campaign (financial aid?) and its capacity to influence the new administration.

The controversial site also revealed that US officials has asked for sensitive data about  “indications or evidence of terrorists' or terrorist support networks' involvement with narco-trafficking, money laundering, human smuggling, and/or other criminal activities as a means of obtaining funding or other logistical support; details on companies or organizations linked to terrorists or terrorist activity, to include financial transactions, shipping records, addresses, and associated companies/organizations. - Terrorist or terrorist support network plans and activities in the areas of recruitment, training, support, communications networks, local and regional command and control.”

Files published by five media groups to which the sensitive material was sent, also show Washington requesting information ”on the presence, intentions, plans and activities of terrorist groups, facilitators, and support networks - including, but not limited to, Hizballah, Hamas, al-Gama'at al-Islamiya, al-Qa'ida, jihadist media organizations, Iranian state agents or surrogates - in Paraguay, in particular in the Tri-Border Area (TBA).“

Thus, the US also asked for information ”on the Paraguayan government's policy, plans and intentions for addressing the terrorist threat, including support for or opposition to the United States in the war against terrorism; Paraguay's position in regional and international fora, including support for or objection to US counterterrorism policies.“

Wikileaks also revealed that Washington, had also shown interest in the existence of oil reserves in the Chaco region, as well for information on ”Impact of corruption and Paraguay's government response (CRIM-3) - Details about organized crime groups, including leadership, links to government or foreign entities, drug and human trafficking and smuggling, kidnapping, counterfeiting, illicit arms trafficking, money laundering, connections to other international organized crime or terrorist groups, movement of organized crime into legitimate business structures, their locations, support structures and means of coordinating operations, with particular emphasis on their efforts to influence, suborn or corrupt government, law enforcement or security officials.“

Ayalde, condemned Wikileaks and considered that ”leaking information of this calibre risks the lives of many people and might affect diplomatic ties between nations.“

Meanwhile, Lacognata told reporters that the Paraguayan government will not make any remarks on the unclassified documents ”until we could double-check the info included in order to determine what's true and what's not”.

Categories: Politics, Paraguay.

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