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Argentina and Chile deny “spying” incident in Patagonia

Tuesday, January 6th 2004 - 20:00 UTC
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The Argentine Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Chilean Embassy in Buenos Aires denied this Monday an alleged “spying” incident involving Chileans nationals taking pictures of a military garrison in the south of Argentina.

In an official release the Argentine Foreign Office said there were "no founded elements" to consider as an espionage episode the arrest of two Chilean gendarmes in the Patagonian province of Santa Cruz, and denied having requested information to the Chilean government, as was reported in some of the Buenos Aires press. Further on the release reports that the group was made up of two men, a woman and a child "all of which have been identified and returned to Chile".

The original version in the Buenos Aires press was that "two Chilean agents belonging to a Chilean government office" has been arrested last Tuesday December 30th for having taken pictures of a military garrison (an armoured brigade) and a military Hospital (started during the 1982 South Atlantic conflict) located in Río Gallegos.

The reports indicated that the incident was under strict reserve having caused "great concern" in the Buenos Aires government given the closeness in time with the November break in of the Argentine consulate in Punta Arenas when Chilean agents were surprised red handed filming sensitive documentation.

However, sources from the Chilean embassy in Buenos Aires denied any spying incident or that Chilean citizens had been arrested in Rio Gallegos. Apparently members of the group worked for the Chilean penitentiary system and were in Argentina vacationing.

The November break in to the Argentine consulate in Punta Arenas forced the resignation of two high officers of the Chilean Army and a presidential instruction ordering the review of all Chileans intelligence gathering operations.

Categories: Mercosur.

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