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News > Latin America

Argentina's Military Police Spied on Maldonado's Family: Judge

  • Maldonado's family have called a peaceful mobilization on Sunday, as it will mark the two-month anniversary of his disappearance.

    Maldonado's family have called a peaceful mobilization on Sunday, as it will mark the two-month anniversary of his disappearance. | Photo: EFE

Published 29 September 2017

Relatives of Maldonado allege Argentine police took him away on Aug. 1 during a protest in Cushamen.

Argentina's national security forces spied on the family of activist Santiago Maldonado just days after he was reported missing, a court investigation has found. 

Argentina: Family Questions Decision to Search Mapuche Land for Santiago Maldonado

According to the investigation, messages about the 28-year-old activist were sent to the head of 35th squadron of the military police.

The investigation, led by run by Judge Gustavo Lleral, found that the police officers sent information directly to Fabian Mendez, head of the Squadron 35 of El Bolson.

Mendez was one of the forerunners of the police repression targeting the Mapuche community between July 31 and Aug. 1.

On Aug. 7, Mendez received a text message saying “Andrea Antico and Sergio Maldonado will be at the Civic Center. They are married.”

The official also received a report detailing where Santiago and his closest relatives would go, in addition to Whatsapp messages monitoring their moves in El Bolson.

The Federal Police found a total of seven Word and PDF documents containing intelligence information, confirming that the Gendarmerie was spying on Maldonado's family.

Sergio Maldonado, Santiago's brother, has criticized the actions of the security forces.

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“They invaded my privacy because I don't have anything to hide,” he said.

He added that he was considering filing a complaint against the military police but that the priority for the moment was to find what happened to his brother.

On social media, he also called a peaceful mobilization on Plaza de Mayo in Buenos Aires and across the country to demand that Santiago Maldonado return home alive, on Sunday, marking two months of his disappearance.

Maldonado disappeared during a military police eviction of the Indigenous Mapuche people in Cushamen, where they have been demanding that the government return land handed over to Italian clothing company Benetton.

Matias Santana is one of the several eyewitnesses who claim that Argentina's military police detained Maldonado during the raid. He asserted that he was able to identify the activist because he was wearing a jacket that he lent him.

The Maldonado family has supported the claim.

Despite centuries of resistance, the Mapuche people are still struggling to maintain their lands and have their ancestral rights recognized by the Argentine government.

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