New documents released by the United States government claim that Chilean dictator of the 1970s and 80s Augusto Pinochet ordered the assignation of top dissident Orlando Letelier in 1976.
US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) agents wrote in a now declassified 1987 report that they believed Pinochet ordered the killing personally — a revelation that comes on the 40th anniversary of Letelier’s murder.
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Augusto Pinochet is widely considered to have been a dictator, his administration having been condemned by the United Nations at the time.
Letelier served as foreign minister of Chile under socialist President Salvador Allende, as well as Minister of Interior and Defense.
After Pinochet’s coup deposed Allende in 1973, the military regime held Letelier as political prisoner as he was one of the most fervent opposition figures.
Later, Letelier was released and exiled to the United States. He lived in Bethesda, Maryland, near Washington D.C., where Chilean secret service agents bombed his car, killing him and his US assistant Ronni Moffitt, and injuring her husband.
US officials reacted furiously due to the attack orchestrated by the secret police of a foreign power at the nation’s capital.
That Pinochet’s secret police were behind the killing had long been know. The new documents handed over by US State Department to Chilean President Michelle Bachelet confirms the responsibility of the dictator, who died in 2006.
In 1995, Chilean courts sentenced two generals involved in Letelier’s assassination six and seven years in prison.