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JUDICIAL AFFAIRS

More spying victims identified

A new group of victims of illegal wiretaps during the last administration met with prosecutors yesterday as part of the investigation into the matter.

One of them was Panama City Mayor José Isabel Blandón, who said that a conversation about campaign strategies with one of his advisers was intercepted, as well as a number of conversations he had on a cell phone belonging to his father.

The mayor criticized former President Ricardo Martinelli for claiming the investigation into the ilegal wiretaps is due to political persecution.

"Martinelli has to learn to be a man and face the consequences of his actions," said Blandón.

PRD leaders Bernabé Pérez and Reinaldo Rivera also had phone calls intercepted, as well as PRD Deputy Zulay Rodríguez. She said she has already started the process for filing a criminal complaint in the matter, as has Blandón.

She will appear before prosecutors today to confirm her participation in the conversations that were recorded.

"Everyone who communicated with me was monitored by state security," she said.

Businessman Stanley Motta confirmed that his e-mails were hacked, but not his phone calls. He was interviewed yesterday.

President Juan Carlos Varela said the case must be investigated and the participants punished. He denied the investigation is any form of political persecution, saying the monitoring of private conversations is a clear human rights violation.

He also said the legal advisors to the Ministry of the Presidency have no connection to the investigation or the evidence that is being collected.

Former Minister of Labor Alma Cortés, however, said that this is a sensitive investigation that has clear political overtones. She said the investigation is driven by people with "specific interests."

Attorneys for former Security Council Executive Secretary Gustavo Pérez, who has been detained in the case, have said their client will cooperate with prosecutors, but denied any wrongdoing.

Pérez has been interviewed twice this week, and is being held at the headquarters of the Department of Judicial Investigation in Ancón.

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