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The Independent, 9.10.99

US implicated in 'Missing' death

US intelligence may have played a role in the death of an American journalist in the days after the coup that brought Augusto Pinochet to power in 1973, according to US government papers just released.

Charles Horman, whose story was told in the 1982 film Missing, was detained at his home in Santiago a week after the coup and taken to a stadium where those suspected of leftist sympathies were held. He was not seen alive again.

In a recently declassified document, State Department officials admitted that US intelligence may have played "an unfortunate part" in his death.

At the very least, the paper noted, it may have been involved in "providing or confirming information that helped motivate his murder by the government of Chile. At worst," it went on, "US intelligence was aware the government of Chile saw Horman in a rather serious light and US officials did nothing to discourage the logical outcome of the government of Chile's paranoia."

A CIA spokesman denied yesterday that the CIA was involved in Horman's death but said the agency was examining its own files on operations in Chile and could declassify some of them next year. Although President Clinton ordered earlier this year the declassification of many documents on US-Chile relations from 1968 to 1990, there have been claims that the CIA is withholding papers about covert operations.

The two-page document made public yesterday was written in August 1976 by the head of the State Department's office of Chilean affairs and two other officials.

The authors commented: "This case remains bothersome. The connotations for the executive branch are not good." And they noted the widespread view that US officials were "negligent, or - worse - complicit" in Horman's death.

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