BUENOS AIRES, Argentina – Argentina's most famous spy master has fled the country due to threats on his life and is not complying with a summons ordering him to testify Thursday in connection with the investigation into a 1994 terror bombing, his lawyer said.
Antonio Stiuso fears for his safety, his lawyer, Santiago Blanco Bermudez, told The Associated Press during an interview Wednesday evening. He said Stiuso contends the government is trying to sully his reputation following the mysterious death of a prosecutor who accused Argentine leaders of protecting the masterminds of the bombing,
"We believe (Stiuso) will continue to be a government target," said Blanco Bermudez, who declined to specify the threats or disclose his client's location.
Stiuso was called to testify Thursday about allegations he hid information related to the bombing, which killed 85 people at Argentina's main Jewish center. Stiuso also has been accused of running a contraband operation and tax evasion.
Blanco Bermudez said all the accusations were baseless.
Stiuso, who oversaw a vast wire-tapping operation before being removed from his post in December, had assisted prosecutor Alberto Nisman in his investigation of the unsolved bombing, which stands as the country's worst terrorist attack.
Nisman was found shot dead in his bathroom on Jan. 18, days after accusing President Cristina Fernandez of reaching a secret deal with Iran to cover up its alleged responsibility for the bombing. Fernandez strongly denies the accusations, which have been thrown out by a federal judge and rejected on appeal, and Iran long has said it had no role in the attack.
Fernandez, in recent months, has suggested Nisman was killed by rogue intelligence agents, but has not provided any details to support that. She also said that Stiuso fed false information to Nisman and even had a hand in writing the late prosecutor's 289-page report detailing the accusations against her.
Blanco Bermudez rejected those suggestions, saying Stiuso's role as operations director of the former Secretary of Intelligence was to gather information, not evaluate it for legal purposes.
"Nisman didn't tell (Stiuso) about his case," said Blanco Bermudez.
Follow Peter Prengaman on Twitter: http://twitter.com/peterprengaman