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18/02/2015 | Argentina - Fallout Over Argentine Prosecutor’s Death Draws International Tensions

Jonathan Gilbert

Fallout from the mysterious death of a federal prosecutor raised diplomatic tensions between Argentina and the United States on Tuesday, on the eve of a controversial march in the prosecutor’s honor that has fueled unease between the government and parts of the judiciary.


In a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry, Héctor Timerman, Argentina’s foreign minister, said the country should not tolerate being a “theater for operations of politics, intelligence or, even worse, more serious actions, because of conflicts that are completely unconnected with its history,” adding that Argentina had no strategic interests in the Middle East.

Days before his death on Jan. 18, the prosecutor, Alberto Nisman, had accused Mr. Timerman and President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner of trying to derail his investigation into the fatal bombing in 1994 of a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires by conspiring to shield Iranians from his charges that they had planned the attack.

“Argentina is observing with great concern the increasing frequency with which many countries are used as stages for the intervention of other states to set out disputes in function of their own geopolitical interests,” Mr. Timerman wrote in the letter, which he read aloud at a news conference. “My country rejects these actions and tries to ensure they do not happen in its territory.” Mr. Timerman, who sent a near-identical letter to the foreign minister of Israel, reminded foreign diplomatic officials that they should not interfere in Argentina’s domestic issues. In a phone call on Tuesday, Mr. Timerman said he would not elaborate on his written remarks. A spokeswoman for the United States Embassy in Argentina also declined to comment.

Responding to Mr. Timerman’s plea for the United States government to take up the issue of the 1994 bombing in its talks with Iran over nuclear issues, Jen Psaki, a spokeswoman for the State Department, said she was not aware of any plans to do so.

“There is a great paralysis in the government about how to resolve this institutional crisis,” said Carlos Germano, a political analyst in Buenos Aires. “It’s turning to the old saying that there’s no better defense than a good attack, and the United States is the easiest target,” he added, referring to tensions between the United States and Latin American countries.

Mr. Timerman has challenged the central premise of Mr. Nisman’s criminal complaint by pointing to an email from the former secretary general of Interpol that says Mr. Timerman never lobbied to lift international arrest warrants for the Iranians.

A prosecutor revived Mr. Nisman’s complaint last week, seeking to charge Mrs. Kirchner and Mr. Timerman. The government said the revival of the complaint and a march planned for Wednesday in Mr. Nisman’s honor by a group of prosecutors amounted to a judicial coup. Members of the political opposition and other Argentines unhappy with the government plan to attend the march, leading Mrs. Kirchner’s supporters to denounce it as “political opportunism.”

In speeches Mrs. Kirchner delivered in Patagonia over the weekend, she did not explicitly mention the fallout from Mr. Nisman’s death.

But she did post comments on Facebook from a speech last week in which she spoke out against unspecified influences abroad, implying that they were meddling in Argentina’s affairs.

Investigators are still trying to establish whether Mr. Nisman, who was found dead of a bullet wound to the head, shot himself or was killed. Some Argentines believe the government had a hand in the events surrounding his death. But Mrs. Kirchner has cast suspicion on a rogue spymaster recently ousted from Argentina’s main intelligence agency. She has suggested that the spymaster, Antonio Stiuso, manipulated Mr. Nisman by feeding him misleading information for his case against her.

NY Times (Estados Unidos)


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