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April 3, 2019
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April 12, 2019
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Publication Date: 
June 16, 1983
Approved for Release: 2018/10/01 C05562014 ARTICLE LYFWI-D... WASHINGTON TIMES ON FA.= . - � � 16 Tune 1983 � Argentina must wait to try Mike Townley , By Jeremiah O'Leary vospoNGTot, Tikes sTAF. For the space of maybe two min- utes last month, Michael V. lbwriley, the convicted car-bombingassassin of former Chilean Ambassador . Orlando Letelier and Ronni K. Mof- fitt, was a free man. - - - But no sooner was he handed his parole at an unnamed federal prison than U.S. marshals arrested him, this time for almost certain extradition to Argentina. 'There, the 41-year-old American expatri- ate and former hit-man for the - - � - - Chilean military intelligence ser- vice, will be tried for putting out the contract for the 1974 murder of Chilean Gen. Carlos Prats and his � wife. � The next act in the cloak-and- dagger life of, Mike lbwnley was to have taken place in Alexandria fed- eral court tomorrow, but will be delayed until July because the death of Judge Oren Lewis has the courthouse closed for the day. Tbwnley, after five years and one month in U.S. prisons, now faces a life-sentence in Argentina for the murder of the Prats family. But . Townley, some officials believe, might well be safer in an Argentine jail than he would be walking any street in the 'United States where the anti-Castro Omega 7 organization would kill him on sight, or in Chile, where he is hated by former members of the DINA intelligence organization for unveiling .so much about those vio- lent organizations. He is 'now more than a convicted assassin. Mike Townley, the elec- tronics wizard who became an expert maker of bonflii, has become a pawn in the foreign-policy relationships of the United States with Argentina and Chile. Why is Argentina, where thou- sands disappeared in the so-called "dirty war" waged by the military government against the leftist Montoneros and perceived, oppo- nents of any stripe, so interested in trying a Chilean assassin for mur- dering a Chilean general*? ; U.S. officials believe there are three reasons: � There is bad blood and consid- erable tension, between: the two neighboring 'Southern Conerepub- tics; Chile reaps a Sudden Arieritine attack,as wasmade on theFalkland Islands, that thearzned forces.ofibeah, countries wentan red alert last ,week when an Argentine !helicopter made a forced landing on the Chilean .side of the. Andes.' Argentiha,"..v,ould like to see Chile oraiiiheamembarrassed...aa ttighti:gromids. - . � The Argentine military, about to give up power in October elec- tions that will bring the Peronists back into control, are well aware that Prats and his wife were killed when the Peronists were running .things in Buenos Aires in 1974.. The -present government wants no new Peronist president in a position to go seeking culprits for the desaparecidos (disappeared ones) now that the internal strife has -ceased. � Argentina places a high prior- ity on receiving U.S. certification ...that-it-is-observing new and 'high" standards of human nights,and the public trial of a -Chileanized Azneridaii- would help '&1sta:6-that the Reagan administration issues the certification after the October elections. lbwnley seems to have more strikes- against him than anyone He went to Chile as a,teenager with his family and became an ardent supporter of the, military government which had taken over in the revolution of 1973. . He and his wife, Mariana, became agents of DINA. His assignments became Letelier, killed in Washington in September 1976; Prats, slain in Buenos Aires; the failed effort to kill exiled politi- cians Volodia Teitelboim and Carlos Altamirano in Mexico in,1975; and a gunshot attack on politician Ber- nardo Leighton in Italy the same year. When the Washington Star printed Townley's photo, enabling the FBI to discover his identity, -;-,c-het ordered him handed over to the United States. Jbwnley, either feeling betrayed - or acting on orders, made a deal with the prosecutors that laid bare much about the heinous work of --DINA --now disbanded � and '"about the CubanOmega 7. group 'which had helped him place and . ignite the bomb under Letelier's car here. - .In return for his cooperation, the prosecutors agreed to ask that he be set free after serving 40 months, but U.S. District Judge Barrington Parker said this deal was not bind- . ing. His release-came on May 6, in the undisclosed prison where Tbwnley was entering the sixth year of his imprisonment. The new arrest swiftly followed. Tbwnley has lost the use of his own name, because federal authori- ties gave him a new identity under the witness protection program to � save him from assassination in jail. He also has lost his wife in .what sources describe as a separation. She was last reported in Spain. There is every reason to expect U.S. Magistrate Ross Grimsley in Alexandria to order his extradition to Argentina, based on the evi- dence. The finding will be reviewed by a federal judge and if extradition is upheld, Tbwnley's attorneys can appeal to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. The last step is for Sec- retary of State George P Shultz to give his approval of the extradition. No later than six months from now Mike Townley will be on his way back to a culture he long ago found preferable to his own American background. Approved for Release: 2018/10/01 C05562014