Former Argentine President Mauricio Macri indicted for alleged illegal espionage | International

The president of Argentina Mauricio Macri testifies in a case for alleged espionage, on November 3, 2021 in the federal courts of Dolores.
The president of Argentina Mauricio Macri testifies in a case for alleged espionage, on November 3, 2021 in the federal courts of Dolores.JUAN MABROMATA (AFP)

Former Argentine President Mauricio Macri was indicted this Wednesday in an investigation for alleged illegal espionage orchestrated from the State. Judge Martín Brava considered, in a 170-page brief, that he has sufficient elements to consider Macri guilty of having ordered the follow-up of the families of the 44 sailors killed on November 15, 2017 in the sinking of the submarine ARA San Juan, an accident that at the time produced a great political upheaval in Argentina. The judge also seized Macri for 100 million pesos (about 950 thousand dollars at the official exchange rate) and prohibited him from leaving the country. This is the first judicial process against Macri since he left power in December 2019. And he finds him outside the country, in Chile, where he traveled to visit the president and friend Sebastián Piñera and give his support to the far-right candidate for La Moneda , José Antonio Kast.

Processing is the step prior to oral proceedings. Macri, however, can request new evidence and delay that final instance for months. The impact has been immediate. The former president always considered himself the victim of political persecution. This is what he made known to the judge a month ago, when he presented a document in which he considered his sentence decided. Macri treated the judge “incompetent and biased” and accused him of rushing his interrogation to process him before November 14, when Argentina was holding a crucial mid-term legislative elections. “You forced my call for an inquiry in the middle of the electoral process for reprehensibly political purposes,” Macri told federal judge Martín Bava. The date anticipated by the former president was not met, but Macri’s statement was part of the opposition’s electoral campaign, which finally won those elections. The magistrate now issued a ruling of unusual harshness.

“The illegal practices that are aired in this resolution, take us back to the darkest times of our country,” he said, referring to the dictatorship. And he accused Macri and the Federal Intelligence Agency (AFI) of “institutionally restoring a series of illegal practices that were believed to be eradicated, very similar to those of that time.” For the judge, the participation of the former president in “espionage tasks prohibited by law” to “obtain personal data and information from the relatives and close associates of the crew members of the submarine ARA San Juan” was considered proven. “At what point did this community of men and women, socially recognized as the ideal of self-denial, become a dysfunction of the system, a threat to the social order?” Bava wondered in his ruling.

In November 2017, even when there was still some hope of finding the sailors alive, intelligence agents sneaked into organized demonstrations to demand a clarification of the accident. Mixed among the people, they took photos and made files of the wives, parents, brothers and children of the dead. They then reported their findings to presidential security. On one occasion, according to the record, they advanced to the Casa Rosada the content of the demands that the relatives would present to Macri during a scheduled meeting. The espionage files came to light in 2020, after the intervention of the AFI ordered by the newly assumed Alberto Fernández.

Macri did not deny the intelligence tasks, which were recorded in dozens of documents, but said they were not carried out by order of him. He attributed them to a common practice of the intelligence services that must ensure the president’s safety. The espionage was part, he said, of what is known as the “presidential outpost,” the work that is done prior to the visit of the head of state to a particular site. Macri’s meetings with the relatives of the sailors were held inside the Mar del Plata naval base, an area with restricted access that was the final destination of the submarine after its departure from Ushuaia, in the extreme south of Argentina. One year it took rescue teams to locate the hull of the ARA San Juan, which still lies at the bottom of the sea, 500 kilometers from the Patagonian coast and more than 900 meters deep.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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