Guatemala court orders arrest of presidential security chief for espionage

September 7th, 2008 - 1:20 pm ICT by IANS  

Guatemala City, Sep 7 (IANS) A Guatemala court has ordered the arrest of former head of presidential security for spying on the president’s office and home, evidence of which was discovered last Thursday, EFE news agency reported Sunday.Prosecutor Rony Lopez said that the court Saturday issued arrest warrants on Carlos Quintanilla and Gustavo Solano, former head of the Strategic Affairs Secretariat.

Quintanilla resigned Thursday and Solano was dismissed after President Alvaro Colom announced the discovery of at least seven spying devices at the presidential office Casa Presidencial as well as at his private office and his home.

Lopez said in a statement to the press that Quintanilla is accused of espionage, wiretapping and revealing secrets, while Solano has been charged with espionage.

The official said that more than 20 prosecutors backed by security forces have launched a series of operations to locate and capture the two former high officials.

The government has asked for international expertise to help in the investigation, Lopez said, but did not reveal which countries have been approached.

Colom blamed the drug cartels for the espionage attempts and vowed his government would smash the spy ring.

“There is an impressive system of organised crime. But those people are completely losing the influence they had in the security system” of the government, Colom said Friday.

Colom Thursday ordered army units to take over security of his office and home following evidence of extensive infiltration by undercover agents.

The president said army units would remain in control of the presidential residence while investigations are carried out and his personal security team is restructured.

The left-leaning Colom, who describes his government as “socialism with a Mayan face,” ended more than 50 years of conservative rule when he took office in January.

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