February 9, 2015 / 10:22 PM / 3 years ago

Peru to close spy agency amid charges of political snooping

LIMA (Reuters) - Peru will partially shutter its intelligence agency to restructure it following allegations its operatives spied on political opponents of President Ollanta Humala, the prime minister said on Monday.

The announcement came after a day-long meeting between Humala and the leaders of opposition parties aimed at finding common ground in his last year and a half of government.

"The temporary closing of the National Intelligence Office (DINI) has been agreed on," Prime Minister Ana Jara said at a televised press conference.

Activities linked to defence and foreign affairs will continue throughout the closure, which the government has proposed to last six months, said Jara.

Jara said she expects Congress to soon pass a law authorizing the action.

Humala, a former military officer who assumed power in July 2011, has denied accusations that he ordered the DINI to snoop on opponents and has vowed to punish any wrongdoing.

Jorge del Castillo, a vocal critic of Humala and a prime minister under former president Alan Garcia, said DINI agents spied on him for months in the hopes of finding information to discredit him.

A local television programme reported last month that DINI agents conducted surveillance on Vice President Marisol Espinoza, who is rumoured to have distanced herself from Humala.

In the 1990s, Peru was rocked by a spying scandal that led to the resignations and eventual arrests of former president Alberto Fujimori and his powerful intelligence chief, Vladimiro Montesinos.

Reporting By Mitra Taj

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