Argentine President Backing Measure To Disband Intel Agency

Argentine President Backing Measure To Disband Intel Agency

Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner said she supports a bill to dissolve the country’s main intelligence agency, which she accused of conspiring against her government.

In a televised address on Monday, her first since the body of AMIA special prosecutor Alberto Nisman was found in his apartment on Jan. 18, Kirchner said that the agency known as SIDE has been undermining the joint efforts by Argentina and Iran to investigate the 1994 Buenos Aires Jewish center bombing, which killed 85 and injured hundreds.

The two countries signed an agreement on International Holocaust Remembrance Day in 2013 to form an independent commission to investigate the attack. Jewish groups joined Israel and the United States, among others, in slamming the agreement.

Kirchner, sitting in a wheelchair in the wake of an accident that injured her ankle, said she plans to create a new federal intelligence agency that would work more closely with the attorney general’s office. In the current system, many members of the Argentine congress, including from the opposition party, have access to intelligence agency leaders.

Last week, Kirchner said that Nisman’s death was not a suicide, as she indicated originally, but rather a deliberate “operation against the government.” Nisman’s body was found hours before a closed-door meeting with congressional lawmakers in which he was expected to reveal details of his allegations against Kirchner and Foreign Minister Hector Timerman, who is Jewish, for their alleged cover-up of Iran’s role in the bombing.

On Tuesday, Bolivian President Evo Morales expressed solidarity with Kirchner, calling Nisman’s death an “ambush” against her.

The U.S. State Department has expressed its hope for an “impartial” investigation into the incident.

“Judicial authorities are investigating his death, and we call for a complete and impartial investigation,” spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters on Friday.

Meanwhile, Damian Pachter, the Argentine-Israeli journalist who was the first to report the death of prosecutor Alberto Nisman, said he feels safe now that he has arrived in Israel.

Pachter, a writer for the Buenos Aires Herald, said he felt “pursued by the Argentine government” and that his life was in danger in Argentina, he told Argentine journalist Adrian Bono in an interview from Tel Aviv on Sunday via Skype.

Pachter, who has dual Argentine-Israeli citizenship, left Argentina on Saturday following what he said were threats to his safety after breaking the story.

He criticized Argentina’s Telam news agency and the Twitter account of the president’s office for publishing information about his plane tickets and wrongly claiming he planned to return to Argentina on Feb. 2. Pachter made similar comments in a column he published Sunday in Haaretz titled “Why I fled Argentina after breaking the story of Alberto Nisman’s death.”

In the Haaretz piece, Pachter said, “I have no idea when I’ll be back in Argentina; I don’t even know if I want to. What I do know is that the country where I was born is not the happy place my Jewish grandparents used to tell me stories about.

“Argentina has become a dark place led by a corrupt political system,” he added.

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