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December 22, 2016
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August 20, 2010
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February 23, 1982
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Sanitized Copy Approved for Release 2010/08/20: CIA-RDP90-00552R000606730003-8 THE WASHINGTON POST 23 February 1982 Say Chile'Aid, ed Lke By Patrick-E- Tyler' Washington Post 5tsff Writer' 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 Townley wrote from prison to officials in Chile. Copies of 52 letters,' covering 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 him, and by the slow payment of his bills: At thee) '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= , ecutors..: During the Leteiier assassination trials, federal ' prosecutors presented extensive evidence that Townley, an American citizen, was- a senior *agent I 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- low-level functionary inthe secret police who never was authorized to 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 Ib1endoza Duran, a member of the :Chilean junta," denounced Townley as "an agent of the CIA, the KGB and at the same time an 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 M. . ,Dropper, 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- ' lies his being a low-level function- ary,? Based in part on leads taken from . the letters, Branch and Propper as- -sert 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 i against : formez Chilean; vice presi dent Bernardo Leighton,. who. along ;;with his wife, was critically, wounded [inRome:on,Oct.,:6,.1975... =i.:., ; 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. 5. perfume, was shipped. back to,- Chile before the ,Sept:' 21`.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. I 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 ofwthe Letelier- kil ling.. So, far,. the administration has made no such certification. But the -matter has taken dn. 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 `Chile during an international air, show there next month. David Kemp, the Chilean desk of-, ficer at the -State -Department, said' J hat some' firms.'havel-made. "over- tures" to department officials.,"Some companies' have" made it clear they . '.would like- to- participate'. but -they are-being- told :thatnoapplications can be- approvect'until'.the certiftca- - tion is sent'fo `ward-to.. the Hill," he Sanitized Copy Approved for Release 2010/08/20: CIA-RDP90-00552R000606730003-8