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Cablegate: Argentina Receives Iran's Notification That It Will Not

VZCZCXYZ0006
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHBU #1461 2981229
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 241229Z OCT 08
FM AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 2317
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHINGTON DC
INFO RUCNMER/MERCOSUR COLLECTIVE
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 0736
RUEHUNV/USMISSION UNVIE VIENNA 0205
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 0260

UNCLAS BUENOS AIRES 001461

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

NSC FOR ZARATE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PTER PREL PHUM PGOV ASEC IR AR
SUBJECT: ARGENTINA RECEIVES IRAN'S NOTIFICATION THAT IT WILL NOT
COOPERATE IN AMIA EXTRADITIONS, INVESTIGATION

REF: A) Buenos Aires 1420
B) Buenos Aires 1333

1. (U) The Argentine Foreign Ministry received October 22 Iran's
formal rejection of its extradition requests for eight Iranian
individuals, including ex-President Hashemi Rafsanjani, wanted for
trial in connection with the 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish
community center in Buenos Aires that killed 85 people. Argentina
had secured Interpol capture notices on five of the individuals.
The Iranian response was forwarded immediately by the Ministry to
presiding judge Rodolfo Canicoba Corral and then made available to
the press. It was signed by an Iranian prosecutor named Rumiani.

2. (U) The Iranians offered a reportedly heated 19-page rebuttal to
the Argentina extradition request. Among other things, it argued
that the lack of a bilateral legal cooperation treaty between the
two countries meant that the Iranian justice system was required to
make a determination as to the validity of the charges. Not
surprisingly, the Iranians found the evidence wanting, with many
"ambiguities" and unanswered questions. Rumiani questions the
hypothesis that a car bomb (carried by a vehicle linked to Iranian
diplomats) destroyed the center, building on alternative theories
speculating that a bomb planted inside the building was used. The
Iranian rebuttal charges the Argentines with relying on Iranian
sources in the political opposition, some of whom are considered
members of "terrorist organizations." The first Argentine
prosecutor, Juan Jose Galeano, is also accused of bribing a key
witness. The response reportedly includes an offer to consider
other evidence as it is developed but rejects the idea of answering
specific information requests put forward by Judge Canicoba.

3. (U) Although Iranian diplomats had previously made clear that
their government rejected the accusations, this was the first formal
response to Argentina's extradition requests. Judge Canicoba said
it was up to the Government of Argentina to determine whether to
characterize the Iranian response as "non-cooperative," but gave his
assessment that it appeared to be just that. According to Special
AMIA Prosecutor Alberto Nisman, the Iranian response did not
directly respond to any of the Argentine accusations in the case and
that the Argentine capture requests through Interpol would remain in
force. On October 23, Judge Canicoba acted on Nisman's request that
he issue an order freezing the assets of the accused, something that
Nisman said he would then seek to have transmitted to the
Governments of Iran and Lebanon for action (ref A).

4. (U) The President of the Argentine Jewish umbrella organization
DAIA, Aldo Donzis, responded immediately to condemn the Iranian
response. He described it as in direct defiance of the
international community, noting that over one hundred countries
represented at Interpol "could not be wrong" after having
unanimously approved the capture orders. The Israeli Ambassador and
Argentine victims associations also issued critical statements.

5. (U) Ambassador Wayne responded to press inquiries with the
following statement:

"The Embassy reiterates its firm support for Argentina's request
through Interpol to bring the alleged Iranian planners and
participants in the AMIA attack to justice. President Fernandez de
Kirchner reconfirmed Argentina's commitment at the UN General
Assembly that the suspects would be given ample and full rights as
defendants under Argentine due process, and we have confidence that
they will be afforded a fair judicial hearing. The United States
Government calls on Tehran to accept the international community's
insistence that it bring to justice those suspects in the terrible,
immoral attacks on the AMIA."

End text of press release.

6. (U) The Ambassador's reaction was carried in highest circulation
daily "Clarin," several wire services, several provincial papers and
a number of radio programs the morning of October 23.

WAYNE

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