Pinochet for beginners




Inside the dictatorship



Search site


Declarations & Statements


The Washington Post, 19.11.00, p.A06

Files Raise Questions On Journalist's Death. By Vernon Loeb, Washington Post Staff Writer

The family of an American journalist murdered in Chile 27 years ago wants to know whether U.S. intelligence operatives passed his name and address to Chilean authorities in the aftermath of a 1973 coup that brought Gen. Augusto Pinochet to power.

U.S. government documents released last week show that the FBI compiled a dossier on journalist Frank Teruggi, labeled him a "subversive" and obtained his address in the capital of Santiago from a sensitive intelligence source almost a year before his death, raising the possibility that American operatives could have tipped their Chilean counterparts.

Teruggi, 24, a left-leaning journalist and student from suburban Chicago, was abducted by Chilean military intelligence agents from his duplex on Sept. 20, 1973, nine days after the coup that toppled elected socialist President Salvadore Allende and brought Pinochet to power. Teruggi's body was later found in a makeshift morgue, riddled with 17 gunshot wounds.

The Clinton administration has called on Chile to provide a "full accounting" of what happened to Teruggi. His family wants the same thing from the U.S. government. "There's never been any acknowledgment in all these years from the U.S. government that it was even aware of my brother in Chile before his death," said Janice Teruggi Page, the journalist's younger sister. "Here's the evidence that they were quite aware of him. Who knows how much observation was done of him from then up until the time of his death?"

Page, a schoolteacher in suburban Chicago, said she hopes the newly declassified documents can serve as a tool to pry further information out of the State Department, CIA, FBI and Pentagon, which last week released 16,000 previously secret government documents on human rights abuses and political violence in Chile.

Even if no information was shared with the Chileans, Page said she thinks it is "outrageous" that the U.S. government compiled a dossier on her brother and branded him a "subversive" because he supported the Allende regime and other leftist causes.

CIA officials have long denied any involvement in the deaths of Teruggi and Charles Horman, another American journalist abducted and killed in the aftermath of the coup. Horman's disappearance at the hands of Chilean intelligence agents inspired the 1982 Jack Lemmon-Sissy Spacek movie "Missing," which also depicted Teruggi's abduction and the discovery of his body. Horman and Teruggi were friends and worked together on a left-leaning newsletter in Santiago called Fin.

In response to Page's comments, CIA officials quoted declassified CIA documents stating that the CIA's Santiago station did not share any information about Teruggi with the Chileans. "Santiago Station had no record of Frank R. Teruggi until after the coup of 11 September 1973," according to one CIA memo.

James E. Anderson, a CIA case officer in Santiago who helped find the bodies of Teruggi and Horman in his "cover" assignment as a U.S. consular official, said last week in a rare interview that both men were unknown to the U.S. government.

"All of the killings were upsetting to me," Anderson said. "There was absolutely no reason for that. I still have nightmares about the bodies I saw."

Anderson's true identity as a CIA officer was revealed in State Department documents released last year as part of a declassification review ordered by President Clinton after Pinochet's arrest in London in 1998. Anderson has never acknowledged any association with the CIA.

The aging ex-dictator has since returned to Chile, where he has been stripped of immunity and now faces prosecution for killings and abductions during his 17-year rule.

Documents released last week in the fourth and final round of the Clinton review show that the 66th Military Intelligence Group in Germany obtained Teruggi's name and address in Santiago in 1972 from a sensitive source, probably West German intelligence, and forwarded it to the FBI's legal attache in Bonn.

The source was surveilling a leftist editor in Germany who was helping American servicemen desert from the U.S. military when Teruggi's name surfaced in conversation as a possible contact in Chile, along with his address in Santiago at 2575 Hernan Cortes.

"According to information received by source, Teruggi is an American residing in Chile who is closely associated with the Chicago Area Group for the Liberation of Americas," according to an October 1972 FBI memo.

FBI documents dated December 1972, based on a subsequent field investigation by agents in Chicago, label Teruggi a "subversive" and note that he attended a 1971 conference held by a group of former Peace Corps volunteers "who espouse support of Cuba and all Third World revolutionaries and oppose United States 'imperialism and oppression' abroad."

Page said her brother and his friends were "middle-class intellectuals" who were not violent and were in no way a danger to the United States or its allies.

The FBI documents on Teruggi contain warnings addressed to other, unspecified agencies in the U.S. intelligence community: "This document . . . is loaned to your agency; it and its contents are not to be distributed outside your agency."

Page said she assumes that the document released last week is the same as one that her father, Frank F. Teruggi, tried and failed to obtain from the CIA in the mid-1970s through the Freedom of Information Act. The elder Teruggi died five years ago.

A 1976 CIA memo, released earlier this year as part of the Clinton declassification review, states that "the document in which Mr. Teruggi's son's name is mentioned was provided to representatives of the CIA by an intelligence service of a foreign government."

Peter Kornbluh, an expert on Chile at the nonprofit National Security Archive, said the documents released last week further suspicions long expressed by Teruggi's friends and family members that he might have been fingered by U.S. intelligence.

"To this day, we still don't know what kind of intelligence-sharing there was between the CIA and the Chilean military before and after the coup," Kornbluh said. He added that the U.S. government's refusal to release information in its files about Teruggi for almost 30 years "is just a scandal in terms of what the family deserved to know."

Top of page