Argentina MPs vote to create new spy agency

Congress approves new intelligence service after government said a renegade spy was linked to death of star prosecutor.

Argentina’s politicians have voted to create a new intelligence service after the government said a renegade spy was linked to the death of a star prosecutor.

Members of Argentina’s Congress voted 131-71 in favour of the government’s bill to replace the SI Intelligence Secretariat with a new service to be called the Federal Intelligence Agency.

The Senate approved the bill earlier this month.

State investigator Alberto Nisman was found with a bullet in his head and gun by his side on January 18, four days after accusing President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner of trying to cover up Iran’s alleged role in the 1994 bombing of a Jewish community centre in Buenos Aires.

The mysterious death shocked the country and has highlighted long-standing worries about Argentina’s intelligence services.

Fernandez has said counterintelligence chief Antonio Stiuso manipulated Nisman into making the allegations against her and was then involved in his death.

Stiuso has also been accused by the government of operating a smuggling ring from SI headquarters.

Fernandez says Argentine intelligence has not evolved since the deadly role it played in the 1976-83 military dictatorship, and must become more accountable.

Opposition lawmakers have said her bill does nothing to keep the new agency from committing the same irregularities that took place at the SI.

“The most important issue is the lack of oversight,” said opposition lawmaker Manuel Garrido.

Nisman died hours before he was scheduled to brief Congress on his accusation that Fernandez entered a criminal conspiracy with Iran to whitewash the 1994 bombing in order to put through a grains-for-oil deal with Tehran.

She has called the accusation “absurd”, and Iran has denied involvement in the bombing, which killed 85 people.

Source: Al Jazeera, Reuters