President Carlos Alvarado and his Chief of Staff (Ministro de la Presidencia), Víctor Morales Mora, had their cell phones and laptops seized during the Friday morning raid on Casa Presidencial (Government House) related to the Presidential Data Analysis Unit (UPAD).
The unit, by decree, had access to confidential data of Costa Ricans. However, president Alvarado and two of the members that made up the UPAD unit have claimed otherwise. Alvarado on national radio and television apologizing for the error, assured that confidential information, ie banking, health, etc was not accessed and that the unit has been terminated.
On Friday, the Attorney General and Judicial Agents (OIJ) raided government house, while officials of the Ministerio Publico (Prosecutor’s office) raided several other government agencies.
Attorney General Emilia Navas, who personally took part in the raids, amid accusations of unconstitutionality, maintained that the police operation and seizures were endorsed by the judges of the Third Court.
It is not known if the president and his minister voluntarily handed over their electronics to judicial agents.
Judicial authorities, in justifying the raids, maintain that the UPAD operated outside the Constitutional powers and with the “total knowledge” of Carlos Alvarado, who “ordered” different public institutions to provide the unit confidential information of Costa Ricans.
Officials also point out that there was possible internal collusion among administration personnel to try to legalize the UPAD, knowing that they had been operating without a legal framework.
The investigation by the Attorney General and Prosecutor’s Office into alleged crimes of prevarication (a fancy way to say “lie”), violation of personal data and abuse of authority on the part of the central government, is based on 8 key points:
- The UPAD operated between May 2018 and October 2019 with the support of Alejandro Madrigal Rivas, Andrés Villalobos Villalobos and Diego Fernández Montero.
- Felly Salas Hernández in her capacity as head of office of the Presidency, together with the advisors, would have ordered personal and sensitive data from different institutions, to the detriment of these without mediating jurisdictional order or consent.
- The president of the Republic Carlos Alvarado Quesada endorsed the role of the (UPAD) office.
- Luis Eduardo Salazar and Diego Fernández tried to legally cover up the work they had been carrying out and justify the “illegal collection of personal and sensitive data”, so they proposed the idea of creating the (controversial) decree.
- This was a plan that was brought to the attention of their superiors and welcomed by them with the objective of “giving an apparent basis of legality in the Office’s operations”.
- With the decree already established, an endorsement was given to UPAD of requesting “arbitrarily” from public institutions, access to confidential information.
- This would be a condition “that would allow the accused to seize personal and sensitive data without them having given informed consent, apparently appearing illegally, giving in principle an unauthorized treatment of personal data and restricted access protected by law, endangering the privacy of the owner ”.
- The decree, in the opinion of the Prosecutor’s Office, is contrary to the national legal system and represents an “unjustified invasion” by the Executive Power.
In social media, there is a lot of discussion on the actions of both the president and his staff and the judiciary, both in favor and against.
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