Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education

Front Page



UK Politics







Talking Point

In Depth

On Air

Low Graphics

Saturday, October 9, 1999 Published at 05:03 GMT 06:03 UK

World: Americas

CIA linked to 'Missing' murder

Some 1,1000 US files on Chile have been declassified

The CIA may have played a part in the notorious rmurder of an American journalist in Chile's 1973 coup, despite years of official denials.

The BBC's Lindsey Marnoch: "A potentially explosive memorandum"
Newly declassified documents throw new light on the death of Charles Horman, whose death inspired the Hollywood film Missing, starring Jack Lemmon.

Horman, a left-wing activist and freelance reporter working in Chile, was murdered shortly after the military coup that brought dictator Augusto Pinochet to power.

The release of the documents by the US State Department came as a British magistrate ruled that General Pinochet can be extradited to Spain to face charges of torture and human rights abuses.

[ image: Jack Lemmon, star of Missing, which raised the plight of Horman's family]
Jack Lemmon, star of Missing, which raised the plight of Horman's family
The Horman document, which is dated 1976, reads: "US intelligence may have played an unfortunate part in Horman's death.

"At best, (the CIA role) was limited to providing or confirming information that helped motivate his murder by the GOC (Government of Chile)," the report added, citing circumstantial evidence.

BBC's James Reynolds: "The documents will be inspected closely here in Chile"
"At worst, US intelligence was aware the GOC saw Horman in a rather serious light and US officials did nothing to discourage the logical outcome of the GOC paranoia."

It goes on: "This case remains bothersome. The connotations for the Executive (branch) are not good.

[ image: Salvador Allende: The US was nervous about his Marxist rule]
Salvador Allende: The US was nervous about his Marxist rule
"In the Hill (Capitol Hill), academic community, the press and the Horman family, the intimations are of negligence on our part, or worse, complicity in Horman's death."

Horman was killed in the chaotic aftermath of the bloody coup against the democratically-elected leader Salvador Allende.

US officials considered Allende's Marxist regime to be unsettling for US interests in South America.

The 29-year-old American journalist was taken from his home and rounded up with other suspected leftists at a football stadium in the Chilean capital, Santiago. He was later murdered and his family spent considerable effort tracking down his body.

The 1982 film Missing generated widespread controversy by alleging the US government had been involved in his murder.

Files handed to widow

At the time it drew vigorous objections from State Department officials, including Nathaniel Davis, then the US ambassador to Chile.

The newly released two-page document was handed to Mr Horman's widow, Joyce, by the National Security Archive, a research group at George Washington University.

It is part of a wider release of more than 1,000 classified US government files relating to events leading up to and following the coup in Chile.

They include files held by the State Department, the CIA, the National Archives, the FBI and the Defense Department.

This is the second set of documents relating to Chile's years of military rule to be released by the US government. The first batch was released in June and a final set is still to come.

The Clinton administration has been keen to stress that the release of the files has nothing to do with the legal proceedings currently facing Gen Pinochet.

Nearly 6,000 files were released in June and there is one further batch to go.

Advanced options | Search tips

Back to top | BBC News Home | BBC Homepage | ©

Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia

Relevant Stories

08 Oct 99 | UK
Q & A: What next for Pinochet?

08 Oct 99 | Broadband
Pinochet extradition cleared

08 Oct 99 | The Pinochet file
The Pinochet case: Timeline

09 Mar 98 | Americas
Pinochet's rule: Repression and economic success

Internet Links

The National Security Archive


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.

In this section

From Business
Microsoft trial mediator appointed

Safety chief deplores crash speculation

From Entertainment
Taxman scoops a million

Violence greets Clinton visit

Bush outlines foreign policy

Boy held after US school shooting

Memorial for bonfire dead

Senate passes US budget

New constitution for Venezuela

North Korea expels US 'spy'

Hurricane Lenny abates

UN welcomes US paying dues

Chavez praises 'advanced' constitution

In pictures: Castro strikes out Chavez

WTO: arbitration in EU-Ecuador banana dispute

Colombian army chief says rebels defeated

Colombian president lambasts rebels