Document Type: 
Document Number (FOIA) /ESDN (CREST): 
Release Decision: 
Original Classification: 
Document Page Count: 
Document Creation Date: 
December 15, 2016
Document Release Date: 
May 24, 2004
Sequence Number: 
Case Number: 
Content Type: 
PDF icon CIA-RDP81M00980R000600230100-0.pdf161.77 KB
WASHINGTON POST ATE ' (__-d1 Approved For Release 2004/07/08 : CIA-RDP81 M00980R000600230100-0 Figure Sought In Letelier Case Called U. S. Citizen By John Dinges Special to The Washington Post SANTIAGO, Chile-The pro-gov- ernment newspaper El Mercurio said yesterday that it had identified the picture of a man sought by a U.S. court in connection with the assas- sination of Chilean exile leader Or- lando Letelier as a US. citizen who participated in right.wing commando actions against the leftist government of President Salvador Allende in 1973. The U.S. government has asked Chile to produce two men for ques- tioning about the 1976 car-bomb murder in Washington. El Mercurio printed wirephotos of the two men on Saturday after the pictures were printed by The Washington Star on Friday. One of the men pictured in The Star was identified as Juan Williams Rose. The U.S. government said Wil- liams was a member of the Chilean armed forces. A Chilean who said he knows the man pictured in El Mercurio corrobo. rated the newspaper's account. This source said he had known the man in the picture for several years Letelier Figure Said to Be Amer CHILE, From Al as Michael Vernon Townley, an American living in Chile since at least 1972 who boasted in conversa- tions of his involvement in terrorist activities against Allende and of his membership in the extreme rightist group, Fatherland and Liberty. The source said Townley's strange behavior and activities made him sus- pect that Townley was an agent of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. El Mercurio's front page carried pictures side-by-side of the man said in Washington to be Williams'and the man identified here as Townley. The two pictures seem to be of the same person. Two weeks ago the State Depart- ment, in a procedure known as letters rogatory, asked the Chilean govern- ment to interrogate, using a list of sealed questions, two men Identified as Williams, 28, and Alejandro Ro- meral Jara, 26. The government responded that it would cooperate with the investiga- tion, but a spokesman said the two names are not listed as members of the military, including the secret po- lice, and there are no records of their existence in the files of the National Identification Service. Reporters' inquiries here so far in- dicate that the names revealed in Washington are false.. The U.S. em- bassy has said that two men using the names Williams and Romeral traveled to the United States in August 1976 on official' Chilean passports and U.S. visas requested by the Chilean For- eign Ministry for official business. El Mercurio, which is a major pillar of support to the government of Presi- dent Augusto Pinochet, began last week to reproduce accounts from U.S. newspapers explaining the alleged in- volvement of Chilean officials in the Letelier murder. An editorial on Sat- urday called on the government to give a public explanation of why offi- cial passports and visa requests were provided for two men under false names. The newspaper's recent coverage of the case is significantly different from its earlier reports, which attributed charges of government involvement in the murder to an international cam- paign against the military regime. Other than to say the men do not exist in military and civilian files, the government has declined to coment on the men's mission to the United States. U.S. Investigators have said the two men traveled to the United States at least twice during 1976 and that one of them is believed to have made contact with someone responsible for the mur- ders of Letelier and an associate, Ronni Karpen Moffitt, on Sheridan Circle. The two died when a plastic bomb exploded under Letelier's car as they were on their way to work. Investiga- tors have said they do not know how the bomb was triggered but they have speculated that it could have been elec- tronically. Townley, according to the source who knew him, worked during 1974 and 1975 in a Santiago garage as a highly spe- cialized ignition and . tuneup man. The source said he once saw Townley's American passport. Although the pic- ture was that of his acquaintance, he said, the passport carried a different name, which he said he could not re- call. The Chilean who knows Townley said he b FatitdliAlld'N LitfArq(Qd*i ticipated in a commando raid on a television station in the southern port city of Concepcion in mid-1973 In which a night watchman was killed. In that incident the raiders success. fully disconnected and destroyed an electronic jamming device that had been installed by Allende government officials to prevent the station from going on the air as part of an opposi- tion network. El Mercurio published a picture yes- terday of the June 9, 1973, front page of a now defunct newspaper, Puro Chile, in which Townley's picture ap- peared with a story accusing him of being the "Concepcion murderer" and alleging that he was a CIA agent who had operated in Chile since 1968. Puro Chile was known as a sensationalist newspaper. It was published by mem- bers of the Communist Party, which was then a coalition partner in Allende's government. Fatherland and Liberty part,.ici- pated in' an abortive coup attempt against Allende in conjunction with a tank regiment of the Chilean army several months before the successful Sept. 11, 1973 coup by the three branches of the armed forces and the national police. After the coup, leaders said the organization had been disbanded, but there were numerous reports that its members were recruited by the army as agents of the secret police, the Directorate of National Intelligence (DINA). Sources In WWJashir-gton have said Williams a ,.id Nomeral are believed to have been working as DINA agents when they went to the United States. The government later dissolved DINA and created a substitute or- ganization. Many DINA agents re- portedly were fired at that time. Accordini to the man who said he knew him, Townley also had talked about his operating a clandestine ra- dio transmitter from his car in Octo- ber 1972 to broadcast against Allende during a ni-.tional strike. He said he last saw Tcwnley about seven weeks ago in Santiago and learned that he no longer worked at the garage. "My- imp:?ession has always been that that gu;i has something to do with the CIA. H) had two U.S. passports; he was a foreigner involved in sub- versive act:.vities In Chile with ex- treme rightist groups, Everything about him was mysterious and he made multiple trips abroad," the Chilean sail;. El Mercur.Io quoted a woman who said she was a good friend of Townley as saying that she "understood" that he was co:inected with Fatherland and Liberty, but that she had not seen him since he fled Chile by crossing the Andes mountains in 1973. Some of the details (if the woman's story con- tradicted the El Mercurio account and a description of him given by the man who knew him.