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A handout photo of the ARA San Juan, before it sunk
The ARA San Juan sunk in 2017 while on a training mission in the AtlanticImage: picture-alliance/dpa/AP/Argentina Navy

Argentina's ex-president charged with spying

December 2, 2021

In 2017, a navy submarine sunk in a remote part of the Atlantic. The families of the 44 victims claim they were followed, wiretapped and forced into dropping any claims about the incident.


Former Argentinian president Mauricio Macri was charged on Wednesday for allegedly ordering the surveillance of the relatives of 44 navy sailors who died in a 2017 submarine accident.

The 62-year-old was is accused of carrying out prohibited intelligence actions and "creating conditions for data of persons to be collected, stored and used."

Judge Martin Bava issued the 174-page indictment against Macri, who currently serves as the country's right-wing opposition leader.

If found guilty under Argentina's intelligence laws, he faces between three and 10 years in jail.

Macri served as president from 2015 to 2019.

In November 2017, the ARA San Juan navy submarine disappeared. It was only found more than a year later, having sunk in a remote area of the South Atlantic. An implosion caused by a technical fault left the submarine crushed, and experts warned against refloating the vessel.

Relatives of victims followed

Relatives of the 44 crew members who perished on board told investigators they had been followed, filmed and intimidated into abandoning claims related to the incident.

Investigators determined the sinking was caused by the inefficiency of naval commanders and budget limitations.

At the time, family members were critical of the government's response to the sinking, saying the search had been abandoned too soon. 

Macri has denied the charges, telling reporters on Wednesday: "I have said all along that this was political persecution that would end this way."

In earlier court filings he denied ordering anyone to spy on the relatives of the victims.

To date, 12 people have been charged in connection with the case.

Macri is barred from leaving the country and was granted a bail of about $1 million (€880,000).

aw/nm (AFP, AP, EFE)

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