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Document Creation Date: 
December 22, 2016
Document Release Date: 
March 8, 2012
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Publication Date: 
March 1, 1986
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PDF icon CIA-RDP90-00965R000402950018-6.pdf103.46 KB
A Declassified in Part -Sanitized Copy Approved for Release 2012/03/08 :CIA-RDP90-009658000402950018-6 cr...._~ ~___ COLUMBIA JOURNALISP?1 REVIEW Plarch/April 1986 After ayear-long investigation, reporters Tom? As?irgan Inn stretcher), x?ho x~as rounded in the Pastora bombing, and Martha Honey farm outstretched) believe Pastora's x?ou/d-be assassin was a Libyan exile )inset). Whodunit: the Pastora bombing The bomb that ripped through Eden Pastora', jungle headquarters near the Costa Rican bor- der on the night of :Nay 30. 1984, failed to kill the ants-Sandinista rebel leader. but it left three joumalists dead and more than a dozen wounded. The assassination attempt during a press conference called by Pastora shocked Costa Rica and was one of the country's big- ?est news stories since the Sandinistas came to power in neighboring Nicaragua in 1979. It may receive some more attention in the United States. thanks to two American jour- nalists who have investigated the bombing and have concluded that there is evidence of United States complicity. Tony Avirgan, now afree-lance camera- man working for CBS and a correspondent with National Public Radio and the BBC. covered the Pastora press conference for ABC News and suffered shrapnel wounds and bums. His wife. S1artha Honey. is a strin?er for The Times and The Sunday Times of London and for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Supported by grants from the Committee to Protect Journalists, the News- paper Guild, and the World Press Freedom Committee -plus more than 520.000 of their savings -the two spent more than a year following up on the myriad leads that emerged after the bombing. Last fall, the results of their investiearion_~er ~blich d in an ei?hty-four-oa?e report which dPra~i. what they describe ac the roles of ncta Rican officials. Central lntelli?ence A?encv oper- atiyes. contras. and anti-Castro Cuban- Americans in nlannine and executin? the bombing. Zhe report identifies Pastora's would-be assassin as Amac (',alil an anti- Qaddafi Libyan exile allegedly recruited by the CIA in Chile. The report also accuses some U.S. and Costa Rican authorities of hampering efforts by local police to inves- tigate the bombine and asserts that a sophis- ticated disinformation campai?n -launched from Washin?ton -tried to shift the blame onto Basque terrorists allegedly in the hire of the Sandinista government. Avirgan and Honey's report has since be- come the basis of a lawsuit on behalf of sev- eral of those injured in the bombine. After months of research by attorneys associated with the National Lawyers Guild in Phila- delphia, agroup including Avirgan has de- cided to seek damages from individuals whom they believe to be responsible for the bombing. Amon? the defendants will be John Hull. an American farmer in Costa Rica who is widely suspected of helping to train and supple contra troops, as well as several 'vliami residents believed to be tied to the anti-Castro terror groups Omega 7 and Bri- ?ade 2506. Claims against U.S. government officials are also being considered. "We'll argue that the government, or people involved with the government, intended to interfere with the constitutional rights of U.S. citizens," saes Judith Brown Chomsky, one of the attorneys preparing the suit. "Another possibility is a suit argued on First Amendment grounds - that the choice of bombing a news conference was designed to discourage the press and to interfere with the press trying to cover what'; happening in Nicaragua." Meanwhile. Avirgan and Honey are them- selves being sued. Following the publication of their report, John Hull and another man implicated by the investigation. Costa Rican Colonel Rodrigo Paniagua, filed libel suits against the journalists. demanding a total of 8750.000 in damages. Paniagua's suit has been dismissed, but Hull's is still pendin?. Under Costa Rican libel law, the burden of proof is on the defendants. "First we have to prove what we said is true, then we have to prove we wrote without malice," Avirgan says. But Avirgan and Honey are confident they will prevail. working in the couple's favor is the fact that alle ations of Hull's involvement with the C1.4 surfaced lon? be- fore the Pastora bombin?. Avirgan himself was part of an ABC News crew that recorded IandtnQS of CIA-supplied planes on Hull's property in northern Costa Rica. [n addition, two Americans who were rr cred hi~52Sta Rican security forces in a raid on a contra camp identified Hull and his assn: tarts a5 links between the contras anti 11 C inrnlli_ ?ence officials. For Avirgan and Honey, their lives since the day of the bombing have been punctuated by violence and tear. One of their principal . sources, a contra identified only by the pseu- donym "David." disappeared and, accord- ing to Costa Rican security officials. has been murdered. Another source fled the counts after his home was fired upon by a passing car. In the wake of death threats prior to the publication of their report, the Costa Rican government supplied armed guards to stay in Avirgan and Honey's home and the couple sent their two children to live with relatives in the U.S. Throughout. U.S. officials in Costa Rica have been unsympathetic. Ambassador Lewis Tambs denounced Avirgan and Hon- ey's report, calling them "madmen" and "traitors." "He said we were traitors to our counts. that we only did Ithe im~estigationJ for the money." .4~irgan says. "lf we thoueht that suing for libel was a good idea. I guess we should be suing him." Joe! .tfil(man Joel ~'Nillman is a free-lance x~riter xhn limes in ,h'ex Ynrk. Declassified in Part -Sanitized Copy Approved for Release 2012/03/08 :CIA-RDP90-009658000402950018-6