30 years after the release of Jacobo Timerman, the former newspaper editor and Argentina's most famous political prisoner during the military dictatorship, the National Security Archive today posted declassified documents that confirm that his case almost resulted in the fracture of the military regime. One September 1979 document states, "President Videla, the civilian Minister of Justice, and the entire Supreme Court threatened to resign" if the military high command refused to release Jacobo Timerman. U.S. Ambassador Raúl Castro requested that Videla directly call President Jimmy Carter if Timerman was released "so the American President would be the first to know the fate of [a situation] of his high interest."
"The Timerman case reflects the struggle over human rights and freedom of the press in Argentina," said Carlos Osorio, director of the Southern Cone project at the National Security Archive. "For that reason it is imperative that all relevant documents in the U.S. and in Argentina be declassified and made available for public scrutiny."
A selection of 18 U.S. documents illustrates how the military used multiple legal pretexts to break up his newspaper, La Opinión, expropriate his other properties, strip him of his citizenship, and expel him from the country. After he was finally released and expelled from Argentina on September 25, 1979, Timerman recounted his experience in a best-selling book, Prisoner Without a Name, Cell Without a Number, which called international attention to the repression in Argentina.
As part of this collaborative project with the National Security Archive, the Provincial Commission for Memory in Argentina today is publishing a selection of secret documents on the Timerman case from the files of the Directorate of Buenos Aires Police Intelligence. In addition, the College of William and Mary is publishing a chronology of abuses committed against Jacobo Timerman.