ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 141

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Rattled by Nisman death, spy chief flees Argentina

Fearing for life, Antonio Stiusso refuses to testify on allegations he hid information about 1994 AMIA bombing, which he was helping slain prosecutor probe

A reporter holds a picture of Antonio 'Jaime' Stiusso, one of the country's most enigmatic spy chiefs, outside the prosecutor's office in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on February 5, 2015. (photo credit: AP/Rodrigo Abd)
A reporter holds a picture of Antonio 'Jaime' Stiusso, one of the country's most enigmatic spy chiefs, outside the prosecutor's office in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on February 5, 2015. (photo credit: AP/Rodrigo Abd)

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina — Argentina’s most famous spy master has fled the country due to threats on his life and is not complying with a summons ordering him to testify Thursday in connection with the investigation into a 1994 terror bombing, his lawyer said.

Antonio Stiusso fears for his safety, his lawyer, Santiago Blanco Bermudez, told The Associated Press during an interview Wednesday evening.

He said Stiusso contends the government is trying to sully his reputation following the mysterious death of a prosecutor who accused Argentine leaders of protecting the masterminds of the bombing,

“We believe [Stiusso] will continue to be a government target,” said Blanco Bermudez, who declined to specify the threats or disclose his client’s location.

File photos of Argentine President Cristina Kirchner (left), Buenos Aires, September 19, 2012, and of Argentina's deceased public prosecutor Alberto Nisman (right), Buenos Aires, May 20, 2009 (photo credit: Juan Mabromata/AFP)
File photos of Argentine President Cristina Kirchner (left), Buenos Aires, September 19, 2012, and of Argentina’s deceased public prosecutor Alberto Nisman (right), Buenos Aires, May 20, 2009 (photo credit: Juan Mabromata/AFP)

Stiusso was called to testify Thursday about allegations he hid information related to the bombing, which killed 85 people at Argentina’s main Jewish center. Stiusso also has been accused of running a contraband operation and tax evasion.

Blanco Bermudez said all the accusations were baseless.

Stiusso, who oversaw a vast wire-tapping operation before being removed from his post in December, had assisted prosecutor Alberto Nisman in his investigation of the unsolved bombing, which stands as the country’s worst terrorist attack.

Nisman was found shot dead in his bathroom on Jan. 18, days after accusing President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner of reaching a secret deal with Iran to cover up its alleged responsibility for the bombing.

Kirchner strongly denies the accusations, which have been thrown out by a federal judge and rejected on appeal, and Iran long has said it had no role in the attack.

Kirchner, in recent months, has suggested Nisman was killed by rogue intelligence agents, but has not provided any details to support that. She also said that Stiusso fed false information to Nisman and even had a hand in writing the late prosecutor’s 289-page report detailing the accusations against her.

Blanco Bermudez rejected those suggestions, saying Stiusso’s role as operations director of the former Secretary of Intelligence was to gather information, not evaluate it for legal purposes.

“Nisman didn’t tell [Stiusso] about his case,” said Blanco Bermudez.

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