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Document Number (FOIA) /ESDN (CREST): 
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Document Creation Date: 
December 22, 2016
Document Release Date: 
July 22, 2010
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Publication Date: 
December 14, 1981
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Sanitized Copy Approved for Release 2010/07/22 : CIA-RDP90-00552R000403680023-7 STAT L Z' 4nn u.r if i YORK i T;._.3 14 December 1981 } IF AL L Leams ~ LW2 Pict to Letelier in 76 involved MIT Verve Gash By DAVID SHRIBMA, 4 Special WTbp NewYaicTime WASHINGTON, Dec. 12 - The Fed- eral Bureau of Investigation has been informed that the Chilean secret police manufactured a supply of nerve gas and shipped it to the United States for possi- ble use in the 1976 assassination of Or- lando Letelier, a former Chileanambas. sador. The nerve gas, which was bottled in a Chanel No. 5 perfume atomizer and transported to the United States on a Chilean airliner, was not used in the as- sassination and was returned to Chile, according to an account contained in a confidential memorandum from' Wil- liam H. Webster, Director of the F.B.L The information was obtained from Michael Vernon Townley, the Chilean agent who admitted killing Mr. Letelier, a leading opponent of the military junta headed by Gen. Augusto Pinochet. The for:: er ambassador died in an explosion in his- car on Washington's Embassy Row in September 1978. The stence of the nerve gas, which Chile is said to have produced for use if hostilities arose with Argentina and Peru, came to light In research by two Amerians- writing a book- about the Leteliercase. The two, Eugene M. Prop6 per, former chief United States prosecu. tor in the Letelier case, and Taylor Branch, a writer, shared details with the F.B.L, which in turn confirmed sub- stantial portions of the acct in an in. terview with Mr. Tgwnley.,~ Centerpiece of'ProjectAndrea' According to the accoun_t,. the nerve gas was the centerpiece of "Project An- drea," a secret undertaking of the Chil- ean secret police, then (mown as the Na- tional Intelligence- Directorate. The ac- count said the gas-was manufacVa ed by Mr. Townley and stored in a laboratoryin his home in Santiago. ?Jr. Townley, an American-born Chil-1 ean, was convicted in May I979 of con. sping to murder a foreign official and; is serving a sentence of 40 months to 1 years in a Federal penitentiary. Lawrence Barcella Jr., an Assistant United States Attorney who prosecuted the case, said in an interview tonight that the report of nerve gas was "indica- tive of how far D.I.N.A: and the Chilean; junta were willing to go to eliminate a political opponent. The Webster memorandum indicated that the F.B.I. had made no recommen- dations or had reached any conclusions; in light of the disclosures, - . . I According to the memo, Mr. Townley, told the F.B.I. that GuihIerno Novol Sampol and Virgilio Pablo Paz Romero, leaders of the anti-Castro Cuban Nation- alist 'Movement, had been aware that he possessed the nerve gas. He added thati they requested a supply of it but that he' refused to provide it because he consid-! ered them unstable. Mr. Novo, in a reversal of a jury trial two years ago, was acquitted last spring of murder and conspiracy charges in the Letelier case, but he was reconvicted of two counts of lying to a grand jury and is serving a sentence in a federal prison. Mr. Paz is still at large. . According to the report provided toj the F.B.I., Mr. Townley used a micro- wave oven and gas cylinders to produce' a nerve gas known as "sarin." When ex- posed to air, sarin produces droplets1 that enter the body through the skin or! lungs, affecting the respiratory mus- cles.. Anil-CastroLeaders Aware Sanitized Copy Approved for Release 2010/07/22 : CIA-RDP90-00552R000403680023-7