Peru's National Intelligence Service in the spotlight
14 April 2015
On Monday 9 February 2015, Peru suspended its National Intelligence Service (Dirección Nacional de Inteligencia or DINI) for 180 days following revelations that it had been spying on opposition politicians and on Vice-President Marisol Espinoza.
The decision to suspend DINI operations was announced by First Minister Ana Jara who has since become the latest victim of this mounting scandal, subject to a vote of no confidence and removal by Congress at the end of March.
The DINI is not strictly answerable to the First Minister, but rather the Presidential Council of Ministers. For many observers, Ana Jara’s demise is largely a political act by President Ollanta Humala’s detractors in Congress to further weaken his already precarious authority. However, serious allegations are laid at the door of the DINI and President Humala which may claim still more political scalps.
The action now centres on a pitched battle between the government and opposition politicians. The Congressional Intelligence Commission has released a minority report which alleges that the DINI was engaged in illegal actions to undermine the reputation of certain political figures, and that these activities ‘reflect a plan drawn up by the government’. It further requests the Public Ministry to open an official investigation (http://peru21.pe/politica/ollanta-humala-y-premier-ana-jara-sabian-espionaje-marisol-espinoza-2215721). The report is vigorously disputed by allies of the government.
Media reports surfaced in November 2014 alleging that the DINI had placed the private residence of Vice-President Espinoza under surveillance, ostensibly as part of an operation to secure the nearby US embassy. In response, the government denied that it was spying on Espinoza or opposition politicians.
However, in January the Director of DINI, Victor Gómez, was abruptly replaced by Javier Briceño, a retired Lieutenant Colonel. Both individuals happen to have been in the same graduation class as Humala at military school. This action, perhaps predictably, did little to quell the growing clamor for investigation.
The suspension of the DINI by First Minister Jara weeks later was received by some as evidence of an attempt to block investigation by Congress or the judiciary into wrongdoing. This was denied by the First Minister and the government has since established a Board of Dignitaries to study the reorganization of the DINI.
The Humala government came under fire in December 2012 for strengthening the DINI to an extent not seen since the days of Fujimori and Vladimiro Montesinos in the 1990s, a period during which the intelligence services committed gross abuses (http://www.larepublica.pe/politica/editorial-10-02-2015). In the immediate term, Humala is likely to come under further intense scrutiny as calls for root and branch reform of the DINI mount.