U.S. experts on human rights violations before and during Chile's dictatorship say an investigation into the death of poet Pablo Neruda risks going off track by looking at Michael Townley, an American who later worked as a spy for Chile.

Townley is an admitted assassin who tried to undermine Neruda's great friend Salvador Allende. But the researchers say there's a long paper trail that proves he was in Florida during the coup that toppled Allende and when Neruda died in September 1973.

They say Townley had fled Chile months earlier, fearing arrest in a killing, and didn't return until November 1973.

Townley later spied for Chile's intelligence agency, but "Pinochet File" author Peter Kornbluh and journalist John Dinges said Monday he was never a CIA agent, despite misinformation in Chile.