An Argentine ex-spy chief believed to have information on the killing of prosecutor Alberto Nisman in January is reportedly in the United States, hiding from authorities.
Antonio Stiuso, who was once head of Argentina’s Secretariat of Intelligence (the nation’s intelligence agency) supposedly traveled to Miami from Porto Alegre, Brazil, on February 19, using an Italian passport. Stiuso had testified in the case of the death of Alberto Nisman hours before taking the flight and went missing shortly thereafter.
Nisman, a prosecutor investigating the bombing of the Argentine Israel Mutual Association (AMIA) in 1994, was found dead of a gunshot wound to the forehead on January 18. This occurred just hours before he was to testify to the Argentine legislature that President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner and several high-ranking members of government were involved in protecting the perpetrators of that bombing as requested by the government of Iran, according to his investigations. Stiuso is believed to have been a close collaborator of Nisman while he was researching the case.
Eighty-five people died in the AMIA attack, the deadliest terrorist event in the history of Argentina. No one has been arrested for involvement in the attack.
The new information on Stiuso has surfaced as a result of the Argentine government’s request that Interpol issue a “blue notice” for him, asking that governments share any information that would help “locate, identify, or obtain information regarding a person of interest in a criminal investigation.”
Stiuso’s attorney has dismissed the blue notice as “illegal and arbitrary.” His exact whereabouts remain unknown.
In addition to the Fernández de Kirchner government calling for information on Stiuso, the leadership of the AMIA itself is demanding more information that could lead to the arrest of those responsible for the attack. In a letter to the United States, representatives of the AMIA asked the U.S. to turn over specific information on Stiuso’s location, calling it “consistent with our ongoing concern in the search for memory, truth and justice for the terrorist attack.”
The U.S. Department of State has responded by assuring Argentine reporters that the United States will always cooperate in such investigations, but, as for the details, “you have to ask the Argentine government.”
Nisman’s death triggered a firestorm of criticism against the Argentine government throughout the nation. At the largest rallies for justice for the prosecutor, up to half a million people congregated in Buenos Aires, demanding more information on Argentina’s relationship with Iran. Holding up signs that read “Islamic Fundamentalists Killed Nisman,” Argentines urged the government to reveal more information about the night he died. While chief prosecutor Viviana Fein has insisted on the possibility that Nisman committed suicide before presenting his case to Congress, his ex-wife, Sandra Arroyo Salgado–herself a judge–commissioned a forensic study that proved the wound left on Nisman would have been impossible to self-inflict and distribute the gun powder found on the gun the way it landed.
Fernández de Kirchner herself has insisted since January that Antonio Stiuso was involved in some way with Nisman’s death. In January, she wrote an extensive, rambling blog post in which she rejected suicide theories and wrote of Stiuso and some unknown conspirators, “They used him alive and they needed him dead.”
With Stiuso in the United States, Fernández de Kirchner has taken to calling American officials “hypocrites” and implicating them in hiding Stiuso. She has used President Barack Obama’s concessions to the Iranian regime as evidence of some misconduct, asking in a speech last week, “If we are complicit with the Iranian regime, then what is Barack Obama? We cannot abide by this hypocrisy.”
Also prompting renewed interest in the case is a newly released film, Los Abandonados, detailing Nisman’s death and the subsequent investigation. The Argentine government has condemned the film and accused its author, American filmmaker Matthew Taylor, of using illicit funding to make it.