Journalist in Nisman case calls Argentina dark place

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

Pachter, a writer for the Buenos Aires Herald, said in a Skype interview Jan. 25 that he felt “pursued by the Argentine government” and that his life was in danger in Argentina.

Pachter, who has dual Argentine-Israeli citizenship, left Argentina on Jan. 24, following what he said were threats to his safety after breaking the story.

Argentine Jews rally Jan. 23 outside the Argentine Embassy in Tel Aviv to protest the death of AMIA prosecutor Alberto Nisman. photo/jta-jose andres lacko

He criticized Argentina’s Telam news agency and the Twitter account of the president’s office for publishing information about his plane tickets and incorrectly reporting that he planned to return to Argentina on Feb. 2. In a Jan. 25 column in Haaretz, Pachter wrote: “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.

“I will return when my sources tell me that the conditions changed,” Pachter told an Argentine publication. “I don’t think that I will be there during this government.”

Argentina’s Cabinet chief, Jorge Capitanich, said in a Jan. 26 news conference that Argentina has “full security for all journalists” and that Pachter should have provided authorities with a photograph he has of a sunglasses-wearing Argentine security agent he said followed him, so the man can be identified.

Nisman was found dead of a gunshot wound in his home on Jan. 19, hours before he was to present evidence that Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner covered up Iran’s role in the 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish center in Buenos Aires.

His death and a storm of conspiracy theories around it have rocked Argentina.

The Argentine government has suggested that rogue agents from its own intelligence services were behind Nisman’s death. The government says Nisman’s allegations and his death were linked to a power struggle at Argentina’s intelligence agency and agents who had recently been fired.

Argentine courts have accused a group of Iranians of planting the 1994 bomb, which killed 85 people. Nisman had claimed that Kirchner opened a secret back channel to Iran to cover up Tehran’s alleged involvement in the bombing and to gain access to Iranian oil, needed to help close Argentina’s $7 billion per year energy deficit.

Kirchner’s government has called the accusation absurd. — jta & j. staff