Orlando Letelier, Carlos Prats & Bernardo Leighton Cases

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Michael Townley, the CIA agent who attacked Chilean Citizens and an American one to discredit Pinochet's Administration worldwide by commandment of the CIA.

The Orlando Letelier, Carlos Prats & Bernardo Leighton Cases are three cases in which the CIA agent, Michael Vernon Townley Welch, carried out attacks against Chilean citizens: He assassinated the Prats couple in Buenos Aires; he made a criminal attempt against the Leighton couple in Rome, through the Italian neo-Nazi movement Avanguardia Nazionale; and he assassinated Orlando Letelier and his secretary, Ronnie Moffit, on US soil in Washington D.C.

Three attacks in a row, in the first three years of the Military Government of Chile headed by President Augusto Pinochet, and immediately prior to the Annual meeting of the United Nations in New York. Townley used more than 15 false names. The U.S. government used the Chileans and the DINA as scapegoats. The Annual Assembly of the United Nations, in its 1977 session, approved a condemnation of Chile for violation of human rights. There were 96 votes against 14. From that year on, the string of assassinations and attacks perpetrated by Michael Townley also came to an end. The CIA objective was to install liberal democracy in Chile with the Christian Democrats gaining power, thus, attacking the Pinochet Administration.

Raúl Eduardo Iturriaga Neumann is falsely accused of being the author of the assassination of Letelier, the leftist judges try to link the DINA with the assassination and Iturriaga as part of the DINA to the incident, but nor the DINA or the Chilean Pinochet Government were the author, and Iturriaga Neumann was not on the DINA in 1976 since he left in December 1975 to study. Iturriaga is in the Punta Peuco Jail for this kind of accusations and is one of the Military Political Prisoners of Chile.


Orlando Letelier's car after CIA's Michael Townley attack. Letelier and his American secretary, Ronnie Moffit were killed, Pinochet is falsely accused of ordering the attack.

On 21 September 1976 the assassination of Orlando Letelier and his American secretary Ronni Moffitt happen in Washington, D.C., in which it has been proved that President Pinochet did not participate. It is reported by the fake news that CIA information has been "declassified" blaming Pinochet for having supposedly ordered the attack. President Michelle Bachelet while in Washington lay a wreath at the site of the attack and "thanked" the CIA for the "declassification". The media published that "Pinochet ordered Letelier's assassination". This is another set-up, because the CIA did not investigate the case and its "declassified" documents are mere opinions of fourth level US officials, which do not provide any proof of Pinochet's responsibility.

"La Tercera", the only local newspaper that, apart from publishing the headline, went into a little more detail about the alleged "declassifications", only presents the opinions of subordinate officials. Among them there is only one direct testimony, that of former Chilean lieutenant and deserter, Armando Fernandez Larios, who is in asylum in the U.S. in exchange for a "compensated confession", that is to say, in exchange for revealing everything he knew about the "Letelier case". He contradicted the headline of "Pinochet Ordered Letelier's Assassination", since he affirmed that "he did not know if Pinochet was involved in the preparation of the assassination".[1] Then, the only valid witness that appears in the "declassification" denies the title of the information.

Senator Juan Pablo Letelier, son of the assassinated, who declared in "El Mercurio" of the 4th of June 1995 the following: "What I have said again and again, because I was taught to speak with the truth, is that there is no evidence that flows from the process of thousands of pages that allows sustaining that there is participation of the Army nor of its commander in chief in the assassination of Orlando Letelier".

In fact, the CIA had no part in the US investigation of the assassination, which was always and from the beginning in charge of the FBI. In Chile, it was investigated by the courts of justice and no conviction against Pinochet emerged from them, as he was not involved in the case. He was so oblivious that, when it was discovered that the person who had planted the bomb was the North American resident in Chile, Michael Townley, Pinochet commissioned the CNI, led by General (r) Odlanier Mena, to find out who that person was, because he knew nothing about him. Naturally, the first person Mena interrogated was General Manuel Contreras, former director of the dissolved DINA. Contreras also denied knowing Townley. But Mena took him to Pinochet.

"El Mercurio" of April 2, 2000 reported the following, in a chronicle titled "And He Denied It Three Times": "Pinochet asked Contreras: 'Categorically, tell me if you have any distant relationship, or that you do not know, with this individual'. 'No, none, General,' Contreras replied. Three times he asked him the same question. At most he could have been an informant, but never a DINA agent,' Contreras reiterated. Then Pinochet asked: 'You mean we have to expel Townley. Do you oppose that?' 'No, for any reason, if he has nothing to do with us,' Contreras said.

Hermógenes Pérez de Arce had a personal testimony of Pinochet's ignorance about the assassination attempt a year after it, since he was invited in 1977, together with other newspaper editors (he was from "La Segunda") to attend with the Head of State the signing of the Panama Canal Treaty in Washington. One morning Pérez de Arce readed in the "Washington Post" a column by Jack Anderson according to which there were "Chilean officials involved in Letelier's assassination". It was the first time something like that had been published. That afternoon we met with the President at the Chilean embassy, and he made him see what Anderson was saying, which infuriated him. He said to me something like this: "How can you even repeat that, which is an outrage! You don't know the damage caused by that attack, which interrupted the granting of loans to Chile that were being processed in those very days". When Hermógenes insinuated that it could have been a DINA action of which he had no knowledge, he told me (evidently mistaken): "I know everything that DINA does and I could never have been involved in that".

After Townley's asylum in the U.S. following his plea bargain, he stated that, upon learning from General Contreras that nothing had been reported to President Pinochet about the attack, he would have replied: "Such a decision should not have been taken without his knowledge".

Carlos Prats's car after CIA's Michael Townley attack in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

What will never be clarified is the role of the American Deep State in that attack and in that of General Carlos Prats. It will never be clarified, because there is no interest or means to investigate it and because the main witness and protagonist of the events has died, the American General Vernon Walters, a notorious secret agent who was a close friend of General Contreras.

Letelier was an active and uncomfortable (for the U.S.) agent of Fidel Castro in Washington. And the contents of his briefcase, recovered by the Americans after the attack, have never been found out.

In short, this new set-up by leftist CIA underlings, lacking all seriousness and substance, will be added to the list of others, such as "Pinochet's gold" in the Bank of Hong Kong and Shanghai, a complete fabrication; Pinochet's "fortune of 27 million dollars", which never appeared anywhere, as it is limited to the two million seized by the Chilean courts and some properties owned by him whose contributions his widow pays four times a year asking the court to release funds to be able to pay them and prevent the judicial auction of the properties; and the alleged torture of a young man, in 1989, in a remote police station in Curacautín, which was the only thing the British "high lords" found, to maintain his detention in London in 1998.

There is a historical irony in all this: historian Paul Johnson, in his book "Heroes", designates Pinochet as such, but acknowledges that the Soviet KGB, "before being thrown into the dustbin of history", managed to demonize the general in the eyes of the world. The irony is that the role of the KGB is now assumed by the CIA.[2]

Raúl Eduardo Iturriaga Neumann is falsely accused of being the author of the assassination of Letelier, the leftist judges try to link the DINA with the assassination and Iturriaga as part of the DINA to the incident, but nor the DINA was the author, and Iturriaga Neumann was not on the DINA in 1976 since he left in December 1975 to study.[3] Iturriaga is in the Punta Peuco Jail for this kind of accusations and is one of the Military Political Prisoners of Chile.

Townley arrived in Chile with his father, Vernon Townley, in 1957. Five years later, his father was appointed general manager of General Motors Chile. That same year, 1964, his father Vernon began to serve as head of the CIA Station in our country and Michael was sent to work in Chile. As head of the CIA Station in Chile was sent to work at Ford Motors Peru. In 1966 he returned to Chile and from here he went to Miami, where he worked at the "AMCO Transmission Center", repairing automatic transmissions of automobiles. He did this job for Felipe Riveros, who was head of the Cuban Nationalist Movement (MNC) in Miami. Townley's contacts with that movement date back to that time.

On November 25, 1970, in Miami, Townley contacted a representative of the CIA in that city to offer a CIA representative in that city to offer his services. This is stated by Robert W. Gambino, Director of Security of the Central Intelligence Agency, CIA, on November 9, 1978, in a sworn affidavit. This affidavit was filed with federal fi scal Earl J. Silbert, and his deputy, Eugene M. Propper, in the proceedings of "The United States of America vs. Contreras, Pedro Espinoza, Guillermo Novo, Ignacio Novo and Alvin Ross...", by the United States of America against Ross...", for the assassination attempt on the former Chilean ambassador in Washington, Orlando Letelier. There is also information on the extradition process to the U.S. of General Manuel Contreras and Brigadier Pedro Espinoza. Point 4 of this affidavit states, textually: "4. The result of the investigation mentioned in the previous paragraph 3, has been communicated to me by The result of the investigation mentioned in paragraph 3 above has been communicated to me by the employees of the Security Office in charge of it. The investigation revealed that, in December 1970, in response to the Directorate of Operations, a check was carried out in a name check was carried out in December 1970. Security Office records also revealed that in February 1971, the Directorate of Operations requested preliminary security approval to use Mr. Townley in an operational capacity. The investigation revealed that, in response to the Operations Directorate, a name check was conducted in December 1970.

There is another affidavit, also dated November 9, 1978, submitted by the same Silbert and Propper affidavits. This second affidavit is signed by Marvin L. Smith, head of the CIA Operations Group, who in item 4 states the following: "... The employees of the Directorate of Operations in charge of the investigation referred to in in paragraph 3 above, have communicated to me the results of the investigation. The investigation revealed that Mr. Michael Vernon Townley contacted a declared representative of the agency, on November 25, 1970, in Miami, Florida, to offer his services to the agency...". Next, in item 5, Marvin L. Smith states: "On June 14, 1973, Mr. Townley telephoned a declared agent of the agency in Miami, Florida, to notify the agency of his presence in the U.S. in in case they wished to question him.

And with the same date there is a third affidavit, also filed by the ficials. This is the affidavit of F.W.M. Janney, Director of Personnel of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), who, at the point (CIA), which in item 4, says: ".... The employees in charge of conducting the investigation referred to in paragraph 3 above above, have communicated to me the result of the same. The result is that the Personnel Office records do not contain the name of Michael Vernon Townley.

The defense counsel for the Cubans, the brothers Guillermo and Ignacio Novo, and for Alvin Ross, attorney Goldberger, testified on page 1.797 of Volume IX: "I will tell the court one thing. This will not be the first time that the CIA denies in a trial in this country that a certain person is working for them. U.S. trial judge Barrington Parker replied to attorney Golderberg: "I'm not going to allow you to put the CIA on trial in this case". On pages 1,811 to 1,814, among other similar statements, the same Judge Barrington Parker says he is "upset that there appears to be CIA and of Townley, Propper and Barcella. They should communicate to the CIA that I am concerned about this [...] I will not permit cross-examination of him (Townley) regarding incidents in Argentina, South America, Italy or Europe. This is the decision of the Tribunal. And it is justified by the fact that, as to other offenses, they cannot contemplate a situation which would can contemplate a situation that would go beyond the bounds of what happened in the District of Columbia.

The U.S. government used the Chileans and the DINA as scapegoats. The Annual Assembly of the United Nations, in its 1977 session, approved a condemnation of Chile for violation of human rights mainly because of Townley's actions. From that year on, the string of assassinations and attacks perpetrated by the agent also came to an end. The goal of the CIA was to replace the Military Government with an Open Liberal Democracy.

Very revealing was what was expressed by the defense attorney, Goldberger, and which was incorporated in the respective file in Volume XXI A, at pages 4,576 to 4,577, in 1981: "The U.S. government used the Chileans and the DINA as scapegoats in this case".

In Volume XV, pages 1,644 to 1,653, of 1981, the defense attorney, Goldberger, states that according to Townley's statement, Townley "joined the DINA in December 1974 and does not see why he was denied the possibility of interrogating him about the trip to Argentina when it is presumed that he went to assassinate General Carlos Prats". Judge Parker said: "Listen: I don't want to hear anything about the investigation of the Prats and Leighton murders". Attorney Goldberger reactsto Judge Parker's prohibitions by saying, "You are not allowing this jury to know who the real Michael Vernon Townley is and I think, if there has ever been a witness in this country that the jury really ought to know the whole story about, it is certainly this one" (Volume XXVII).

In Volume XXII, on pages 4,780 to 4,788 and pages 4,797 to 4,798 of 1981, the former U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Paraguay, and later Ambassador to Chile, George Walter Landau, declares in the process making clear that: "Not being able to communicate with the deputy director of the CIA, General Vernon Walters in the year 1976, visas were extended to the Paraguayan passports of Williams and Romeral"... Michael Townley and the Chilean Captain Armando Fernández Larios traveled to Washington D.C. with those names and passports in the year 1976... "ordering that the passports be photocopied from the first to the last page, including the photographs of the persons, which he sent by diplomatic pouch to General Vernon Walters and together with an explanatory message". Ambassador Landau further states that he "received an ordinary message, acknowledging receipt of the shipment, but that it had been delivered to Mr. George Bush, director of the Central Intelligence Agency, because General Walters was no longer working with the Agency."

It is interesting to note the statement of former Ambassador Walter Landau, made in Miami, in an interview given in that city to the newspaper La Segunda, on May 31, 1995. Question: "With all due respect... may I ask you a question that is part of Chilean public opinion...? It has been said that you are from the CIA.

Landau answers: "The CIA never confirms or denies if someone is a member of it, as is normal in any intelligence office".

It all relates to Townley's joining the CIA in 1971. That same year, Townley returned to Chile with his family. Already had married Mariana Callejas Honores. For him, it was his first marriage. For Mariana Callejas, it was her third.

After the Military Pronouncement of September 11, Townley set out to return to Chile, for which he adopted a different identity, falsifying his identity documents adopting the name of a deceased American citizen. Thus he obtained the American passport No. 5 D2287732, in the name of Kenneth Enyart, under whose name he entered Chile.

On September 30, 1974 there was an attack against the former Commander-in-Chief of the Chilean Army, General Carlos Prats, and his wife, in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Townley had entered Argentina under the name of Kenneth Enyart and the same passport number mentioned above. He arrived in Buenos Aires on September 10 and left on September 30 for Montevideo, Uruguay, with the same name and passport number.

The attack was carried out with the help of Mariana Callejas, who was traveling under the false name of Ana Luisa Pizarro. Avilés.

On October 1, 1974, both entered Chile from Montevideo, always under the names of Kenneth Enyart and Ana Luisa Pizarro. Pizarro. The data are registered in the respective international police.

At the end of November, or perhaps in December 1974, Townley made contact with the DINA through through Major Pedro Espinoza, to whom he made his technical-electronic skills known. Espinoza put him in contact with Major Daniel Valdivieso, in charge of that area in the organization. Townley himself testified to this in several declarations. In some of them he says that his contacts with the Chilean DINA began at the end of November and in others in December 1974. Both dates, after his attempt on attempt on the Prats husband and wife.

Minister Jorge Rodríguez, appointed by the Supreme Court to study the extradition of Chilean citizens to, accused of the attack on the Prats couple, in his ruling of July 12, 2002, details seven statements made by Townley. In all of them he states that his first contacts with the DINA were at the end of November or in December 1974, that is, more than two months after the Prats murders.

In December 1974, Townley traveled to the U.S. for the purpose of acquiring electronic items for the Directorate of National Intelligence (DINA). He contacted mainly the AID company, whose president was John Holcoms, a well-known member of the CIA. Upon his return, he brought a series of electronic items of special use for intelligence services.

It was around that time that General Raúl Iturriaga Neumann met Andrés Wilson, which was the name used by Townley at the time. From the end of 1974 and during 1975, Townley combined his activities as an informant and electronic technical collaborator of the DINA with a series of trips. Among other countries he visited Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, USA and several European countries, using different passports and names, among them Andrew Brooks and Kenneth Enyart. On some of these trips he was accompanied by Mariana Callejas, who traveled with him under the name of Ana Brooks.

In September 1975 his tracks appeared in Rome, where he made contact with the neo-Nazi movement Avanguardia Nazionale, and mainly with its leader, the Italian Stéfano delle Chiaie.

On October 6, 1975, some members of Avanguardia Nazionale attacked the former minister of Chilean President Eduardo Frei Montalva in Rome. Bernardo Leighton was seriously wounded along with his wife, Anita Fresno. Following this attack, Townley smuggled Stéfano delle Chiaie out of Italy, who was pursued by car by the police on his way to France. In Rome, especially in his registration in hotels, Michael Vernon Townley used his real name.

In 1976, Townley made further trips abroad, using different identities. In the Dominican Republic he used the name name of Juan Torres; entered and left Paraguay under the name of Juan Andres Wilson; entered the U.S. on September 8, 1976 under the name of Juan Andres Wilson; he entered the U.S. on September 8, 1976 with a passport in the name of Hans Petersen Silva, a document that was made and forged by Townley himself, in his workshop.

On September 21, 1976, in Washington D.C., Michael Townley electronically detonated a bomb in the car in which the former foreign former Chilean Foreign Minister Orlando Letelier and his secretary Ronnie Moffit, resulting in the death of both. This attack was carried out with the with the collaboration of some members of the Cuban Nationalist Movement, MNC.

Thus, Townley carried out three attacks against Chilean citizens: He assassinated the Prats couple in Buenos Aires; he made a criminal attempt against the Leighton couple in Rome, through the Italian neo-Nazi movement Avanguardia Nazionale; and he assassinated Orlando Letelier and his secretary, Ronnie Moffit, in Washington D.C.

Three attacks in a row, in the first three years of the Military Government, and immediately prior to the Annual meeting of the United Nations in New York.

In the first of them, against the Prats couple, he had not yet established contacts with the DINA, according to his own statements, recorded in seven declarations statements collected by Minister Jorge Rodriguez Ariztía and existing in the file of the in the file of the Argentine extradition request.

Until 1976 it was not known who had carried out these attacks. As soon as the Military Pronouncement took place, there were national and international political sectors that expected that, as soon as possible, the Military Junta would hand over the Government or call for democratic elections.

Neither happened. On the contrary, the Military Government issued the "Declaration of Principles of the Government of Chile", stating that goals were set, but not deadlines. The U.S. Government and the CIA, as a consequence, were against Allende's socialist government, they did not want that in the southern cone of South America to establish a "dictatorship of the proletariat" in a Marxist spirit. Without directly supporting the Military Pronouncement of September 11, the U.S. government welcomed the end of the Popular Unity Government. But, according to them, a "military dictatorship" could not be allowed to hold sway for long in South America.

When the CIA documents corresponding to those years were declassified, we learned that during the Popular Unity Government, the US agency collaborated economically with several Chilean organizations, opponents of the government, and with several Chilean organizations, opponents of Allende. This aid, especially in dollars, even reached members of the Christian Democratic Party, who acknowledged the fact. This political party, which agreed with the Military Pronouncement, was the most interested in having the Government of the Nation handed over to it as soon as possible.

General Pinochet recalls in his memoirs that: "A certain well-known personage, from a well-known political party, has called me several times, telling me where he is, leaving telephone numbers and stating that he is available for whatever is offered...".

The then Colonel Manuel Contreras Sepúlveda was sent by the Junta to Washington at the beginning of 74, in order to meet with General Vernon Walters, deputy director of the CIA.

The purpose of the interview was to explain what in its beginnings was our intelligence service, to inform about the situation in Chile and, in particular, the work to be done to dismantle the subversion in Chile.

In the interview, General Walters expressed the wishes of his government. They wanted that, in the course of that year, open elections be called and political parties be allowed to function again.

In 1975, the Junta arranged for the Director of National Intelligence to meet, again in Washington, with the vice director of the CIA, who was still General Walters. At this time it was particularly important to detail the situation in the country in order to counteract the opinion of numerous U.S. officials and representatives of other countries at the United Nations, who were calling for the expulsion of Chile from the United Nations.

On that occasion, Walters stated that Kissinger was opposed to this type of measures against our country, but not Senator Frank Church, a declared opponent of the Chilean government junta and the main promoter of the idea of expelling Chile from the United Nations.

General Walters also expressed the CIA's desire for DINA to collaborate in establishing contacts with European nationalist groups... for the benefit of its own intelligence agency. The CIA was in question because Senator Church himself had denounced several CIA activities as criminal and the former CIA director, Richard Helms, had just been sentenced to two years in prison.

Colonel Manuel Contreras explained to General Walters that Chile and the DINA did not have the capacity to carry out what was being asked of them, and that he did not want to be involved in events that could be questionable, precisely because the Chilean Government was under diplomatic attack by several countries.

The two trips to the U.S. by the National Intelligence Director are detailed in declarations and reports delivered by him in the extradition process requested by Italy as a result of the attack against the Leighton couple.

The Kennedy Amendment, specially sponsored by Democratic Senator Edward Kennedy, was published in February 1976, by means of which the U.S. hardened even more its position against the Chilean government, suppressing military aid and even prohibiting the sale of arms to the country.

The Annual Assembly of the United Nations, in its 1977 session, approved a condemnation of Chile for violation of human rights. There were 96 votes against 14. From that year on, the string of assassinations and attacks perpetrated by Michael Townley also came to an end.

In March 1978, the national press published the photos of Michael Townley and Captain Armando Fernandez Larios, identifying them as the characters Williams and Romeral, both involved in the assassination attempt that took the lives of former Foreign Minister Orlando Letelier and his secretary, Ronnie Moffit, in Washington D.C.

The FBI was convinced that Townley was directly implicated in the events that led to the death of Orlando Letelier; it had, among other evidence, the originals of the forged passports issued in Paraguay. Walter Landau, former U.S. ambassador in that country, had sent them to the CIA. To this must be added the denunciation, addressed in writing to President Pinochet, by the director of the CNI, retired General Odlanier Mena, reporting the various purchases of electronic material in the U.S. made by Townley, of his trips to the U.S. and of his trips to Paraguay and of the use of false passports; among others, those obtained in Paraguay.

This denunciation was the one that gave rise to the process for passport forgery initiated in the Chilean military courts, known later as the Letelier Case.

These events caused great commotion in the country and, in particular, within the CNI. Due to the pressure exerted by the U.S. Government, the Chilean Junta, relying on certain articles of the Immigration Law, expelled Townley from the country.

In his activities in Chile, Michael Vernon Townley Welch used more than 15 assumed names, registered more than 100 trips abroad and committed a series of criminal acts, such as forging documents, identity cards and passports. A brief calculation of the money needed to cover all his activities, especially his trips and stays abroad, adds up to a stratospheric amount, impossible to be covered by the Chilean National Intelligence Directorate. Nor was it the DINA that taught him to make remote-controlled bombs or the sophisticated electronic techniques he displayed, or to be a specialist in document forgery.

Townley was never a DINA agent, only an informant and collaborator in electronic matters. The officials of the National Intelligence Directorate came in their totality from the institutions of the National Defense, the Carabineros de Chile, the Investigative Police or the Gendarmerie.[4][5]

See also


  1. "La Tercera", 24.09.16, p. 14
  2. Mi Misión Imposible (es). Hermógenes Pérez de Arce's blog (September 24, 2016).
  3. Declaración de Eduardo Iturriaga por su juzgamiento en el caso de Ronni Moffitt
  4. En las Alas del Cóndor, 2021, Eduardo Raúl Iturriaga Neumann
  5. Hermógenes Pérez de Arce (March 5, 2022). Caso Prats: Júzguelo Usted. Blog de Hermógenes.