Bizarre row over Campagnoli hits US shores
Gov’t distances itself from request targeting hard-line backers of suspended prosecutor
The controversial case that involves José María Campagnoli almost turned into a diplomatic issue yesterday as the Foreign Ministry dismissed reports that it had asked that the United States investigate Twitter users who allegedly threatened the public attorney who replaced the suspended prosecutor at his former office in the City neighbourhood of Saavedra.
Despite the Foreign Ministry’s denial, the request to investigate several Twitter users was indeed filed — although by the Federal Police. The Attorney General’s office yesterday also highlighted that the investigation was not being led by a federal prosecutor, throwing the ball to the Buenos Aires City judiciary.
The revelation, which was accompanied by a healthy dose of outrage on social media, was the latest chapter in an impeachment trial the opposition has insisted is politically motivated, aimed at preventing members of the judiciary from investigating alleged government corruption. When Cristina Caamaño was appointed to replace the suspended prosecutor in February, she reported several problems with Campagnoli’s loyal employees and also filed a criminal complaint in relation to threatening messages. The case was left in the hands of misdemeanor prosecutor Daniela Dupuy.
Sources told the Herald it was not Dupuy who directly requested US authorities to investigate Twitter users who had used their accounts to back Campagnoli, the prosecutor suspended in December on accusations of malfeasance and interfering with a colleague’s investigation.
Yet another judicial source insisted Dupuy was the one who had filed the request, noting there is an agreement between the City and the US government to investigate cybercrime.
The request to look into several Twitter users was, in fact, filed by the Federal Police and a brief was sent back by US Homeland Security. The department does not normally investigate these types of cases.
Dupuy was unavailable to comment.
One of Campagnoli’s employees, Ignacio Rodríguez Varela, wrote that the US Embassy in Argentina told him that the investigation had been called off. The US Embassy declined to comment.
Varela was reportedly among the targeted users, who also included @SergioFDoormann, @richito18, @eleduMOP, @ProcuLegitima, @Vigoroth92, @CarlBonifatti74%, @mariaFerrante, @anamagarupstre, @scarlet1864, @anabelochio and @andres_ rimoldi.
According to his profile, Rodríguez Varela is the father of eight children, a criminal law professor and an ex-rugby player. But he is more famous than that.
Last year, daily La Nación devoted an editorial to his case, saying that he was suffering discrimination due to his surname — he is the son of the Justice minister from the last dictatorship, Alberto Rodríguez Varela, who was also late dictator Jorge Rafael Videla’s defence lawyer. In 2012, a federal court in the city of La Plata ordered the arrest Rodríguez Varela for the so-called Graiver case, which involved the transfer of the country’s most important newsprint provider, Papel Prensa, to dailies La Nación, La Razón and Clarín.
According to La Nación, Ignacio Rodríguez Varela sat for at least five competitive exams but was forced to remain as Campagnoli’s secretary because he was unable to get a better placing in the courts.
Another account that was allegedly under analysis belonged to Sergio Doormann, a lawyer.
“I want Campagnoli and (judge Pedro) Hooft to be reinstated, more press freedom and less dictatorships,” he explains in his profile. Hooft underwent an impeachment tribunal earlier this year, facing accusations of being involved with crimes against humanity during the last dictatorship, but the court said there was not enough evidence to remove him.
Andrés Rimoldi, another one of Campagnoli’s assistants, was reportedly investigated.
Caamaño explained that she had received threats from anonymous Twitter accounts, some of which said they wanted to “lynch her” but she highlighted that she did not list anyone who did not hide behind a Twitter handle in the complaint.
One of the users that was investigated was @proculegitima, who tweeted several photographs of Caamaño, accusing her of not continuing with the investigation against Kirchnerite businessman Lázaro Báez. That investigation is being led by a federal prosecutor and was never in her hands.
Caamaño said yesterday she had not ordered — nor even requested — that Twitter users be investigated.
“I only met prosecutor Dupuy when I filed the complaint,” Caamaño told the Herald yesterday. “She never told me that she was going to file that request before US authorities.”
Caamaño said it was another example of how “opposition media are generating a scandal,” adding that she had never been in charge of the investigation that had her as a victim.
The prosecutor — who previously investigated activist Mariano Ferreyra’s murder in 2010 and then became an official at the Security Ministry led by Nilda Garré — yesterday reported new threats but, in conversations with the Herald, said that she was analyzing whether to file a new complaint.
The members of the impeachment tribunal that has to examine charges against Campagnoli will meet on July 17 but they are in constant contact in efforts to try to find an alternative to the issues that is causing divisions between the members of the court led by federal prosecutor Daniel Adler, sources confirmed to the Herald yesterday.
The first thing that the tribunal will have to decide is who replaces María Cristina Martínez Córdoba, the juror who resigned last week leading the impeachment tribunal to a dead end.
Monday’s discussion was stalled as three jurors wanted to discuss a recusation request filed by prosecutors against Martínez Córdoba’s alternate, Leonardo Miño. Miño is a member of the Magistrates Association, which opposed Campagnoli’s suspension. Last week, Public Defenders head Stella Maris Martínez appointed Nicolás Toselli to replace Martínez Córdoba, which also forces the court to decide who will be taking the seat.
Once the jurors decide on the seventh member, they will be able to discuss the request filed by Campagnoli’s lawyers to reinstate him. Any new trial would have to take place before October, when charges against Campagnoli expire.@LucianaBertoia