Friday :: Dec 9, 2005

Another Niger forgeries update

by eriposte

Late last week, the Los Angeles Times reported that the FBI was re-opening its investigation on the Niger forgeries. Now, the journalists who have done excellent work in doggedly pursuing the Italian connection to the Niger forgeries - Carlo Bonini and Giuseppe D'Avanzo of La Repubblica - are reporting that the corresponding inquiry in Rome is being reopened.

De Gondi at European Tribune who has been kindly alerting me to the new articles from La Repubblica has also been doing a great service by translating them as soon as they appear. Here are some extracts from his translation of the latest La Repubblica article:

Dismissed little more than a month ago, the so-called `Nigergate' inquiry (Proceedings # 33402/04 I) has been reopened. The Italian prosecutor's office in Rome will hear Alain Chouet, ex-Number Two of the Direction Générale de la Sécurité Extérieure  (Dgse), the French counterespionage agency. Following the news of the FBI's fresh investigation, the Italian magistracy is also stirring. The version/reconstruction [of events] detailed by the director of the `Intelligence and Security Department' has reshuffled both the protagonists and the contents of the fake documents as far as timing, events and places are concerned. During the first investigation, the three witnesses - Rocco Martino, `Signora Laura' (the Sismi source in the Niger Embassy in Rome), Antonio Nucera (the Sismi colonel)- had witheld [this evidence].

What did Chouet reveal to la Repubblica (December 1st 2005)? Basically three circumstances:

1 Already in the summer of 2002, the CIA was in possession of at least some of the false documents.

2 Rocco Martino, who approached the Service de Renseignement de Sécurité for the first time that same summer, offered the French that same dossier for 100 thousand dollars.

3 In the course of a second meeting, again in the summer of 2002, the French told Martino that the documents were a forgery and, at the same time, warned the Bundesnachrichtendienst (Bnd), the German counter-espionage, to whom the Italian "ex-intelligence-agent-turned-con-artist" had tried to pass off the bogus dossier.

The three circumstances have convinced public prosecutor Franco Ionta to resume the investigation.

La Repubblica's earlier article reported on what Alain Chouet said and de Gondi's translation of that article is here. De Gondi posted the translation of a follow-up article here. Note that SISMI and the Italian Government are trying hard to pin the blame for the forgeries on the French. Of course anyone who has read my reports on the matter will know that SISMI was very much behind mainstreaming the forgeries. There may have been additional players in the "game", but one or more people at SISMI were key participants. I don't have specific comments on the validity of Chouet's claims as of now. More on that later.

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