Fri, Oct 02, 2015 - Page 7 News List

Argentina rebukes US for failing to aid ex-spymaster hunt

CLOAK AND DAGGER:Spy boss Antonio Stiuso vanished shortly after prosecutor Alberto Nisman was found dead in murky circumstances

Reuters, BUENOS AIRES

Argentina on Wednesday criticized Washington for failing to answer repeated inquiries about the whereabouts of a fugitive former spymaster who Argentine President Cristina Fernandez’s government suspects is seeking refuge in the US.

Antonio Stiuso, who was operations chief of the now-disbanded Intelligence Secretariat, disappeared following the murky death in January of Argentine state prosecutor Alberto Nisman, which plunged Fernandez’s government into political turmoil.

Nisman was found with a single bullet to the head days after accusing Fernandez of trying to cover up Iran’s alleged role in a deadly 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires.

Fernandez and her ministers say Stiuso duped Nisman into fabricating unfounded allegations to destabilize the government and then needed him dead, and have previously questioned whether the spy chief was working for the US.

Argentine Cabinet Chief Anibal Fernandez on Wednesday said the US government had failed to respond to any of the government’s eight formal requests for details on Stiuso’s whereabouts.

“We ask ourselves sometimes, ‘Is the United States ready to allow the bilateral relations between it and Argentina to worsen for a man they all say has no importance, no strategic value for the United States,’” Fernandez said at a daily news briefing.

A spokesman for the US embassy in Buenos Aires said: “We don’t comment on requests for assistance in criminal matters and we respond to these requests through established judicial channels.”

Interpol on Wednesday issued a “blue notice” seeking Stiuso’s location so that he could testify about the investigation into the truck-bomb attack on the Asociacion Mutual Israelita Argentina (AMIA) Jewish center, local media reported. Interpol declined to comment.

The attack killed 85 people, the deadliest in Argentine history. Argentine courts have accused a group of Iranians of orchestrating the bombing.

Nisman saaid that Fernandez opened a back-channel to Iran to cover up Tehran’s alleged involvement.

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