Latin America & Caribbean

Chile journalist denounces military rule research theft

A Chilean journalist, who is investigating human rights abuses committed during military rule, says he has been threatened and had material for his latest book stolen.

Mauricio Weibel says his house has been broken into three times over the past days and research about crimes carried out under Gen Augusto Pinochet taken.

Mr Weibel has been placed under police protection.

His father, a Communist Party leader, was forcibly disappeared in 1976.

Mr Weibel, who works for the German Press Agency, is the author of "Illegal association: The dictatorship's secret archives", documenting previously classified material about the role of military intelligence under Gen Augusto Pinochet (1973-1990).

'Suspicious circumstances'

He said his home was broken into three times between 14 and 16 December and research material taken for his latest book on the role of the secret police in the dictatorship.

Mr Weibel said he was not the only journalists to have become the victim of "suspicious thefts".

Javier Rebolledo, author of a book about human rights violations carried out by the secret police under military rule, had his computer hard disk stolen and Cristobal Pena, who wrote a political thriller set in the Pinochet era, had his entire computer stolen, Mr Weibel told Chilean radio.

"All of the reporters who are suffering this kind of intimidation are reporters who have investigated human rights violations or who have had to testify because of our investigations," Mr Weibel said.

Government spokeswoman Cecelia Perez said they were taking the reports seriously.

"Security measures have been set up so that they and their families can have the tranquillity that nothing else will happen," she said.

More than 40,000 people suffered human rights abuses under Gen Augusto Pinochet, and of those more than 3,000 were killed or forcibly disappeared.

Mr Weibel's father was one of those who disappeared after his arrest in 1976.

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