Colombia's Supreme Court has handed down stiff prison sentences to two close aides of former President Alvaro Uribe for organizing a spying ring that illegally intercepted the communications of the conservative leader's top opponents.

Maria del Pilar Hurtado is the former head of Colombia's intelligence agency. She was sentenced to 14 years in jail while former Uribe chief of staff Bernardo Moreno was given eight years.

Both were convicted in February of spying on journalists, politicians and even Supreme Court justices between 2007 and 2009.

The high court said both officials acted with the acquiescence of Uribe. The former president denies any knowledge.