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Former Agent Accuses Peru Spy Chief

March 17, 1998

LIMA, Peru (AP) _ A former army intelligence agent has accused Peru’s spy chief of ordering the tapping of telephones of leading politicians and journalists.

Luisa Zanatta, who fled to Miami in December, also said Monday in an interview with Peru’s Television Global that army intelligence agents killed a fellow agent for giving a magazine information about human rights violations.

Zanatta, who spoke from Miami, was the first to publicly accuse President Alberto Fujimori’s shadowy security adviser, Vladimiro Montesinos, of ordering the phone-tapping.

Army agents use sophisticated Israeli phone-tapping equipment to monitor telephone conversations, and copies of the conversations are delivered to Montesinos, the de-facto head of the National Intelligence Service, she said.

Opposition Congressman Fernando Olivera demanded Tuesday that Montesinos be ``criminally charged in the case of telephone espionage.″

Denunciations of wire tapping and the murder of the agent first surfaced last year, causing a political scandal that rocked the Fujimori government.

A television station broadcast a number of the taped conversations in July 1997 and said they began in the early 1990s. They included the conversations of former U.N. Secretary General Javier Perez de Cuello when he ran against Fujimori in the 1995 presidential election.

The government denied then that it was responsible for the wire tapping or that it had anything to do with the agent’s murder.

The government later rescinded the Peruvian nationality of the Israeli-born owner of the television station that first reported the telephone espionage. Control of the station passed to the hands of minority shareholders sympathetic to the government.

Zanatta said the murdered agent, Mariella Barreto, confided to her shortly before she was killed that she belonged to a paramilitary group responsible for the murders of nine university students and their professor in July 1992.

Zanatta said Barreto told her she passed information to a magazine on where the bodies were buried.

After Barreto was murdered and her body _ missing the head, hands and feet _ was discovered along a highway outside Lima, Zanatta said another agent told her that Barreto was killed for passing the information.

During the interview, Zanatta also said she had voted in the presidential election in 1995, violating a law that prohibits members of the armed forces from casting ballots. She said she was ordered to vote for Fujimori.

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