Afrique Asie Europe Moyen-Orient Internet Nations unies
Uruguay12 April 2006

Documents about Uruguayan and Chilean intelligence stolen from journalist

Reporters Without Borders today urged the Uruguayan government to pledge to shed light on the suspicious theft of important confidential military documents from investigative journalist Eduardo Preve of TV news station Canal 10 in Montevideo on 26 March, three days after he had received them from a source.

The documents are said to have supported claims that Uruguayan and Chilean military intelligence colluded during the 1990s to protect individuals accused of human rights violations under the military dictatorships of the preceding decades.

“One can imagine how compromising these documents were for the military from the short period they remained in Preve’s possession,” Reporters Without Borders said. “Is the military split between those who favour transparency and those who favour secrecy? If such is the case, it falls to the government to intervene and shed every possible light on the practices that were current within the army and intelligence agencies during and after the military dictatorship.”

The press freedom organisation added: “The circumstances of the theft are highly suspicious and it goes without saying that Preve’s complaint requires a thorough investigation. If recovered, we hope that the documents will be returned to Preve for the sake of the necessary fight for the truth.”

Preve, who also writes for the daily El Observador, has for years been investigating the links between the armies and intelligence agencies of the six military dictatorships in South America that signed the Plan Condor in 1975 whereby they agreed to exchange intelligence and political prisoners. He also revealed that clandestine links continued long after the return to civilian rule in the 1980s and that human rights violators and key witnesses were smuggled from one country to another to escape justice.

A case that Preve has investigated closely is that of Chilean chemist Eugenio Berríos, who collaborated with the 1973-90 Pinochet dictatorship, was evacuate to Uruguay in 1991 thanks to the intervention of the Chilean and Uruguayan intelligence services and was murdered in 1993. The Chilean judicial authorities have requested the extradition of three members of the Uruguayan military for their suspected role in the Berríos murder.

According to Preve, the documents he received on 23 March corroborated the claim that the Uruguayan military gave protection in 1993 and 1994 to individuals who had been tried in absentia by the Chilean courts, not just the three Berríos murder suspects.

“They consisted in part of copies of internal Uruguayan army notes about the coordination of activities with foreign intelligence agencies, especially the Chilean agencies,” Preve told Reporters Without Borders. “There were also the names and addresses of key witnesses who had been in touch with a Chilean civilian - the son of a senior official in the dictatorship - who was hiding out in Uruguay with the complicity of the military in both countries in order to avoid having to appear before the Chilean courts.”

Preve left the documents in his car outside his apartment building when he returned home on the evening of 26 March. The daily newspaper Brecha said he had no reason to worry about their security as there are always two policemen on guard outside the building opposite, where the son of President Tabaré Vásquez lives, and on the night of the theft there were four policemen.

Despite their presence, someone was able to force open the passenger door of Preve’s car and to take the time to select the documents for removal.

Preve reported the theft to the police. “It is clear that a group of people involved in these intelligence operations between Uruguay and Chile do not want this information to be published now, especially as the documents included new names,” Preve told Reporters Without Borders.

In this country
14 April - Uruguay
Government urged to protect newspaper editor and her children who have been getting death threats
14 December - Uruguay
New community media law gets final approval from parliament
15 November - Uruguay
Warm welcome for Senate backing for new community media law
22 March - Uruguay
Alleged drug trafficker threatens and assaults journalist
11 October - Uruguay
Journalist threatened by soldiers “nostalgic for military dictatorship”

in the annual report
Uruguay - Annual Report 2008
Uruguay - Annual report 2007
Uruguay - Annual report 2006

14 March 2008 - Cuba
No surrender by independent journalists, five years on from “black spring”
5 June 2007 - Venezuela
Closure of Radio Caracas Televisión consolidates media hegemony
22 May 2007 - Colombia
Paramilitary "black eagles" poised to swoop down on press

Americas press releases
3 June - United States
President Obama urged to raise freedom of expression in his Cairo speech
29 May - Venezuela
Open letter to President Hugo Chavez to protest about official hounding of Globovisión
27 May - Mexico
Crime reporter abducted and killed in Durango state
20 May - Cuba
Anyone can browse the Internet... unless they are Cuban
15 May - Cuba
Journalist gets three-year jail sentence

Americas archives
2009 archives
2008 archives
2007 archives
2006 archives
2005 archives
2004 archives
2003 archives
2002 archives
2001 archives
2000 archives

Sign the petitions
Miguel Galván Gutiérrez
Fabio Prieto Llorente
United States
Chauncey Bailey
A petition to Raúl Castro