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Approved For Release 2004/06/14: CIA-RDP81 M00980R000400120006-9 CIA OPERATIONS CENTER Date. 18 Octobe DISTRIBUTION II L The attached is from today's Star. 0, lleans Vnject Leteli By Jeremiah O'Leary Washington Star Staff Writer Officials of the government of Chile and defense attorneys in the Letelier murder case have raised the issue of CIA involvement in the assassination. But the Justice De- partment calls the suggestions "ridiculous and untrue." Chilean government officials twice have mentioned the former CIA deputy director, Gen. Vernon A. Wal- ~ters? f_n connection with a case, though not specifically charging any connection between him and the bomb-murder in Washington of Orlando Letelier, an exiled Chilean leftist. And, in response to charges by . attorneys for three of the five Cuban exiles indicted in the case, the United States admitted in court papers filed yesterday that Michael V. Townley made "two unrelated contacts" with the CIA in Florida "a number of years.-Ago." Townley has been con- Item No. NEWS SERVICE Ref. No. r playa victed of conspiracy in the case and is cooperating with the prosecutors. The first mention of Walters was made in March in Santiago, Chile, when Assistant U.S. Attorney Eugene M. Propper and two FBI agents, Car- ter Cornick and Robert Scherrer. were questioning two Chilean army officers about their role in the Le- telier case. THE SECOND mention was last week when Chilean Ambassador Jose Miguel Barros hinted that it might be interesting to find out why Walters went to Paraguay early in July 1976. Walter's departure from the CIA was announced in April 1976. The two Chilean army captains, whose real names were not disclosed by sources here, were the ones presented to Propper and his investi- gative team by the Chilean govern- ment as "Juan Williams Rose" and "Alejandro Romeral." These were the names used. the U.government said, by the Ameri- can, Townley, then a member of the Chilean secret police, and a Chilean army captain, Armando Fernandez Larios, in Asuncion,. Paraguay, where they used Paraguayan pass. ports to obtain U.S. visas. Since Propper and Cornick had passport photos of Townley and Fer- nandez, they are sure the use of the two Chilean captains was an attempt to hide the identities of those accused of plotting and carrying out the Sept. 21. 1976, murder of Letelier and a col- league, Ronni Moffitt. PROPPER AND Cornick refused to comment on the new twist in the case, but it was learned that one of the two captains with false names said under questioning March 24 that their mission in August 1976 to the United States was to see Walters. The other said they had come to deliver documents to the Chilean Embassy here. Walters is traveling and could not beached for comment. Approved For Release 2004/06/14: CIA-RDP81 M00980R000400120006-9 However, in about the Letelier he knew nothing case and had h s. Chilean officer In his state the request of the Chi- by the FBI at Walters denied any lean government, offi- contact with the knowledge or cers. And he said that suggestions of f purpose to his trip to some suspicious the Paraguayan capital were ridic- ulous." TRIP to Paraguay WALTERS' visit, government was a private They said the timing of had no contact with the obtained the U.S. visas with Paraguayan passports the timing was an sources said. there - just a few Walters' arrival Townley and weeks before Fer- nandez obtain falsified Par was unrelated to the he July 27. 1976 But one official ac- Leteliei case. knowledged t unfortunate coincidence. The Walters statement, it was learned, is part of a massive documentation. sent to the Chilean Su- preme Court last month by Propper as part of a request for extradition of the three Army officers accused in the Letelier murder: Gen. Manuel Con- treras Sepulveda, retired chief of the DINA secret police; Col. Pedro Espinoza, operations chief of DINA; and Fernandez, who came to the United States, the U.S. government alleges, to shadow Le- telier in order to chart his movements a few days before a bomb killed him in his car. In his statement Walters told the FBI that the purpose of his journey to Paraguay was "totally unrelated to the Letelier case and completely apart from either Chile or Letelier." JUSTICE DEPARTMENT officials said yester- day, in response to questions, "The Department of Justice has become aware that certain elements in Chile are attempting to raise smokescreens that Townley is CIA and therefore that there has to be CIA involvement." Chilean officials have had Walters' statement since July 1978, well before the arrival there of the extradition documents, and know there is no truth to allegations about him, Justice Department offi- cials said. Two Townley-CIA connections, hitherto unre- ported, came to light yesterday in court docu- ments filed by Propper and Assistant U.S. Attorney E. Lawrence Barcella. In their reply to motions filed by attorneys for the three Cuban exiles awaiting trial in the Le- telier case, the prosecutors acknowledged that Townley had two contacts with the CIA in Florida that they said were unrelated to the Letelier affair. A footnote to the prosecutors' reply said: "The defendants state in their motion that 'the prosecutor has admitted that Townley had contact with the CIA at Langley.' This is simply not true. In response to a question by counsel for the defend- ants regarding Michael Townley's contacts with the CIA, the prosecutors informed counsel that a number of years ago, Townley had two unrelated contacts with the CIA in Florida. "ON ONE OCCASION in 1970 or 1971, Mr. Town- le- contacted the CIA to ask if they were inter- June he ve FBI tease 2004/06/14: CIA-RDP81 M00980R000400120006-9 in the near future. While a (CIA) representative took some general background information from Mr. Townley, no further action or contact oc- curred. I "Subsequently, in 1973, Mr. Townley contacted a I representative of the CIA in Florida to state that he had just returned from Chile and asked if any- one would be interested in talking to him. Neither party got back in touch with the other. These two incidents represent the sum total of contacts be- tween the CIA and Mr. Townley." The CIA declined to comment on any aspect of I the Townley-CIA contacts or the Walters trip to Paraguay. The documents filed with U.S. District Judge Barrington D. Parker by the prosecutors were in response to motions by New York attorneys Paul A. Goldberger, Jerry Feldman and Lawrence A. Dubin who represent Guillermo Novo Sampol, Ignacio Novo Sampol and Alvin Ross Diaz. TWO TWO OTHER anti-Castro Cuban exiles, Jose Dioniso Suarez and Virgilio Paz, are charged with the Letelier murder and are fugitives from the FBI. The attorneys, preparing for the trial scheduled to begin Jan. 8, made motions for discovery of the government's evidence, for a change of venue of the trial, for a bill of particulars claiming that the indictments are vague and for severance of the Ignacio Novo trial from the trial of the others. i Parker will hear arguments on these motions Oct. 30. The prosecutors said the government will pro- vide extensive discovery, but, "We fimly reject the notion promoted by the defense that discovery is to ualed W' be In r esponsehtotdefense sat attorneys' request 'for to government CIA documents and files, the prosecutors said, "There is absolutely no evidence whatsoever that the Central Intelligence Agency had either ad- vance knowledge of or participated in the Letelier assassination.- While it might be a popular pastime and interesting cocktail party conversation to level unfounded charges at the CIA, there is not the tslightest scintilla of evidence to indicate CIA in- volvement or knowledge of this matter." THE PROSECUTORS also said that the law pro- vides no- support for the defense attorneys' de- mand that the government reveal the identity of all informers in the Letelier case. The Chilean Supreme Court has the evidence for extradition of Contreras, Espinoza and Fernandez under study but has refused to make the evidence public. Described by some sources as "explosive," the evidence may not by law be disclosed by U.S. officials until the trial begins. Chile is expected to keep a lid on the evidence at least until the trial begins of the three defendants in U.S. custody. The three Chilean officers accused of complicity jn the murder are in technical custody in Chile. ested in the faj0M)l a of ~l1vaesj~g2V b%/14 : CIA-RDP81 M00980R000400120006-9