Source AP ©

Former director of Honduras' telephone company wiretapes president's conversations

The former director of Honduras' state-run telephone company was accused of illegally wiretapping the president's phone conversations.

Eight taped conversations, in which a voice that sounded like President Manuel Zelaya outlined a strategy to control the nation's news media, made their way to the popular video-sharing Internet site YouTube last month.

The clips were broadcast on radio stations, sparking an investigation into Marcelo Chimirri, the former general director of state telephone company Hondutel, as well as Hondutel executives Luis Arriaga and Danilo Santos. Prosecutors say Chimirri ordered the two men to record Zelaya's phone conversations.

"We've ordered that he be captured wherever he is, but he is fleeing justice," criminal court Judge Roxana Morales told The Associated Press.

Chimirri has asked for protection for his family amid the scandal, said Ramon Custodio, head of the government-supported Committee for the Defense of Human Rights.

Because Chimirri and his two daughters are dual Italian and Honduran citizens, the Italian Embassy said it was following the case, but it said he had not sought political asylum.

Chimirri was charged on Friday with 12 counts of abusing authority as a public official and illegal arms possession, the prosecutor's office said. If convicted, he could serve from three to six years for each count.

Police arrested Arriaga on Friday, but Santos was still at large Tuesday.

On Friday police searched all three men's homes, carrying away computers and reams of documents. They also seized two Thompson submachine guns and a 30 mm rifle from Chimirri's residence.

Zelaya has been embroiled in disputes with several media companies and has accused them of criticizing his administration for economic gain.