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December 22, 2016
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July 22, 2010
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February 23, 1982
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Sanitized Copy Approved for Release 2010/07/22 : CIA-RDP90-00552R000403680020-0 STAT THE WASHINGTON POST 23 February 1982 Letters Say Chile Aided Leteii ev Uri] we By Patrick.E.' Tyler Washington Pmt Starr Wrlur' The Chilean government paid legal fees and family support during 1978 and 1979_ for Michael V. Town- ley, the man who was convicted of plotting and helping to carry out the car bombing assassination in- Wash-ington of exiled former Chilean.dip lomat Orlando. Letelier,-according to private letters s-Townley wrote-from prison to officials in Chile. Copies of 52 letters;'coverin the period from June 1978, two'-months-. after Townley was turned over to the United! States by the: Chilean-gov ernment, to October.1979. were ob- tained by The Washington Post and authenticated by federal officials. The letters - portray the still. imprisoned . Townley as frustrated and despondent `over efforts by the Chilean government publicly' - to ' disassociate itself from hini, and by the slow payment of his bills: At the- 'same time, the letters contain assur- ances that Townley would ' conceal additional information concerning Chilean. intelligence - activities including contacts with rightist Eu- ropean terrorists-from U.S;;'pros= ti ecutors_ _ During the Letelier -assassination trials, federal"prosecutors presented extensive evidence that Townley, an American citizen, was- a senior agent in Chile's intelligence service,: then 'known as DINA, and had carried out the September 1976 assassination of Letelier and an associate, Ronni K. Moffitt, under direct DINA orders. The Chilean government, which re- fused to extradite three senior DINA. officials who were.. indicted . in - the case based on Townley's testimony, at the time characterized Townley as a low-level functionary in -the secret . police who never was authorized assassinate anyone.. Since then, Chile consistently has denied any: connection with Town- ley, including payment of his legal and personal expenses. In September of 1978, for ,'example, Gen. Cesar Mendoza Duran, a member of the Chilean junta, ~ denounced Townley as "an agent of the CIA, the KGB and at the same time im agent of Cuba." - Asked yesterday about the information contained in the Town- ley letters, Juan Prado, a-spokesman ..at the Chilean Embassy, said: "This is another lie. Every statement Mr. Townley makes about Chile is false." The letters originally ? were ob- tained from. an. unidentified source 'by. Taylor Branch and Eugene 1MI. .Propper, a former assistant U.S. at- torney who headed. the prosecution team, against Townley and.. two Cuban: exiles, who later were ac .quitted. Branch and Propper have written a book about the Letelier assassination due to be published in _April. Last September,'the authors turned over copies of the letters to the FBI, which has reviewed their contents and discussed them with Townley,.who remains at an undis- `closed prison serving the remainder of his plea-bargained sentence for ;.conspiring to murder Letelier.. "The one thing you get from the letters is that he [Townley] was any- thing-but low-level," said Lawrence Barcella, the assistant U.S. attorney now 'in charge of the Letelier inves- tigation.. "His .'knowledge of events and other intelligence operations be- 'Les' his being a low-level function- Based in part on leads taken from . the letters, Branch and Propper as- -sect in their book, titled "Labyrinth" that DINA and Townley were in volved with other terrorist activities outside Chile,' including an assassi- nation. attempt. by Italian terrorists against . former; .. Chilean vice presi ~-dent Bernardo Leighton,. who. along with his wife, was criticalIy,wounded Asked about these and related in'- formation contained in the book, Barcella said, "Townley has acknowl- edged enough of those things that I believe them to be true.". - To date,'the only publicly released information taken from the letters emerged last December, when fed-, eral officials confirmed a DINA plot' in which Townley in '1976 smuggled a small quantity of deadly nerve gas into the United States for possible use on Letelier. The vial of nerve gas, disguised as a bottle of Chanel No. a perfume, was shipped. back to Chile before the Sept.' 2t'attack on Letelier. This week, the FBI is expected to turn over copies of the letters, or at least a summary of their contents, to members of Congress who have re- quested them: as part of an investi- gation into Chile's human rights record. The Reagan administration last year persuaded' Congress to lift a .ban on U.S. arms sales to Chile, pro-, posed by Sen. Edward M. Kennedy' `(D-Mass.) and adopted by Congress in 1976.. But licensing for all such arms exports was conditioned on ad-- ministration certification to Congress that the government' of Chilean President Gen. Augusto Pinochet has improved' its , human rights: record and has made progress in its. own- investigation of ,the Letelier- kil ling. So farthe administration has made no such certification. But the matter has taken On increased ur gency this month to several ;U.S.- arms and aircraft.. manufacturers - that are seeking government licenses to export their. wares for display in r Chile during an international air, show there next month. David Kemp, the Chilean desk of ficer at the -State-Department, said that some' firms.'have -made--'over- tures" to department officials. "Some ccompanies have-made it clear they, i would like- to participate but -they, are ? being told that noapplications can be' approved'untilthe &r Sanitized Copy Approved for Release 2010/07/22 : CIA-RDP90-00552R000403680020-0~,