American Accused Of Clandestine Broadcasts
PANAMA CITY, Panama (AP) _ Authorities have arrested a Miami man, accusing him of running clandestine radio and television broadcasts with the help of the U.S. government and local opposition leaders.
Attorney General Carlos Villalaz said Kurt Frederick Muse, 39, was arrested Wednesday night as he tried to leave Panama and return to Miami.
Villalaz told a late night Thurday news conference Muse is accused of secret broadcast transmissions and attempts to violate national security.
Muse was briefly presented to reporters and told them he was not beaten during his detention.
The attorney general said Muse operated seven different broadcast stations, each in a different building within the capital. Authorities found a radio station at each location and television stations at two, he said.
Villalaz showed reporters a video cassette, seized at one location, reportedly containing a news program by Panamanian broadcaster Bosco Vallarino, now a resident of Washington, D.C.
Vallarino is a director of the opposition group Civilian Crusade and is sought by authorities in connection with the case, the attorney general said.
He said arrests were expected shortly of Panamanians involved in the case.
Villalaz said U.S. army officials stationed at Clayton Base near the Panama Canal deposited $3,000 a month in Muse’s personal bank account in the United States to pay for the pretaped broadcast service.
According to documents found on his person, Muse reportedly worked for the U.S. Army in Panama as a civilian school inspector, he added.
Panamanian officials said they knew about the broadcasts for three months, but the sophisticated equipment used made it difficult to pinpoint the signals’ origins.
The broadcasts reportedly appeared under the name ″Libertad″ and had no fixed transmission time. Announcement fliers were distributed an hour before transmissions.
The broadcasts were transmitted automatically with a special timing mechanism so no one had to run the equipment, officials said. Electronic equipment designed to interrupt regular TV and radio transmissions was used to deliver the broadcasts to Panamanians.
A communique from the Defense Forces’ press office said Muse was involved with ″the American Embassy, the Secret Service and the Interamerican Development Agency and formed part of a strategic plan of the Americans, in association with local opposition sectors, executed during the past few months.″
In a separate, apparently unrelated case, authorities on Thursday freed Panamanian businessman Luis Alberto Arias, formerly the federal budget planning secretary and director of the national bank, a day after his arrest for undisclosed reasons.
Sources in the opposition Democratic Christian Party told The Associated Press that Arias was arrested Wednesday night at the airport as he tried to board a U.S.-bound plane.
No official statement has been made on Arias’ arrest or release and Arias could not be located for comment.
The government-backed news media repeatedly attacked Arias in recent months, accusing him of giving the U.S. government Panamanian bank records.
The United States last year froze $54 million in Panamanian bank assests deposited with U.S. banks as part of economic sanctions designed to force out Gen. Manuel Antonio Noriega, chief of the Defense Forces and Panama’s de facto leader.
Washington acted after a federal grand jury in Florida indicted Noriega on drug trafficking charges. Noreiga denied the charges.