Professor Who Sued CIA Finds Office Burglarized, Data Stolen
The office of a University of Washington professor who recently sued the Central Intelligence Agency was burglarized this week, in what the academic called a "suspicious" coincidence.
The intruders stole a hard drive belonging to Angelina Godoy, who heads the school's Center for Human Rights, which, among other things, studies the CIA's suspected involvement in El Salvador's 1980-92 civil war, The Seattle Times reported.
The disc held "about 90 percent of the information" of the center's research in El Salvador, which in turn is the basis for a freedom-of-information lawsuit it filed on Oct. 2, against the intelligence service. The timing of the break-in "invites doubt as to potential motives," the professor told the newspaper.
"While we have backups of this information, what worries us most is not what we have lost but what someone else may have gained," a spokesperson for the center said on Wednesday in a statement, according to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. "The files include sensitive details of personal testimonies and pending investigations."
University of Washington police said they were investigating the incident, and police spokesman Maj. Steve Rittereiser told the newspaper that the intrusion is believed to have occurred sometime between Oct. 14 and Oct. 18.
"It's a burglary," Rittereiser underlined. "It's a significant event, like any burglary on our campus, and we're investigating."
Godoy's lawsuit alleges that the CIA has illegally withheld information about an El Salvador army officer, Col. Sigifredo Ochoa Perez, who is suspected of human-rights violations during that the civil war. The intelligence service has refused to release related documents, as well as information about an American academic who witnessed a massacre purportedly conducted by Ochoa's troops.
The Center for Human Rights' lawsuit, meanwhile, aims to help Ochoa's accusers in El Salvador and elsewhere, Mina Manuchehri, a law student involved in the effort, told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.
"I can't begin to tell you how proud I am to be a part of an institution that is willing to stand behind its faculty, staff, and students as we fight for access to information that has the potential of helping survivors of unimaginable crimes achieve justice and healing," Manuchehri said.
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