- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 4, 2007

SANTA CRUZ, Bolivia — A speechwriter for leftist Bolivian President Evo Morales is wanted on terrorism charges in neighboring Peru, according to law-enforcement authorities in that country.

Peruvian Attorney General Guillermo Cabala has said his government is issuing a warrant for the arrest and extradition of Peruvian national Walter Chavez for activities related to the Tupac Amaru, a Marxist revolutionary movement that was active until 1997.

Mr. Chavez faces imprisonment “for crimes of terrorism because, in October 1990, he blackmailed two Peruvian citizens by demanding money as a war tax for the Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement,” Mr. Cabala said.

Counterterrorism officials have described Mr. Chavez as “one of the intellectual figures” of the Tupac Amaru, which gained notoriety in late 1996 when it raided a diplomatic reception at the Japanese Embassy in Lima, Peru, seizing 72 hostages.

The four-month siege ended with a counterassault by U.S.-trained commandos of Peru’s Delta Company, who killed 14 members of the terrorist team, including their leader Nestor Cerpa.

Peruvian security officials said recently that the group is reorganizing in neighboring countries. Citing police intelligence reports, Peru’s main newspaper, El Comercio, reported a month ago that Tupac Amaru had formed “support bases” in Bolivia “to advance legal, political and military objectives.”

Intelligence analysts say that the group’s connections with Bolivia date to the early 1990s and that Bolivian identity documents were found on Cerpa’s body.

Bolivian government officials say Mr. Chavez has been employed in Mr. Morales’ press office during the past year.

“He corrects and revises speeches for the president,” said Vice President Alvaro Garcia Linera.

Mr. Chavez also is reported to have tried to influence news coverage. Directors of various news channels say he has attempted to intimidate them into supporting government positions and even threatened to suspend broadcasting licenses.

Mr. Chavez has requested an indefinite leave of absence from his job at the presidential palace to “prevent this campaign against me from achieving its objective of affecting the office of comrade President Evo Morales.”

In an open letter, Mr. Chavez said, “None of the accusations against me has ever been proved.”

Mr. Cabala said an indictment on extortion charges was issued against Mr. Chavez when a businessman, Freddy Villafuerte, notified police that he was being blackmailed into paying $10,000 to the Tupac Amaru. He said police have a film in which envelopes with money are handed to Mr. Chavez.

“What we know is that Chavez belonged to the intellectual leadership of those who organized, planned, directed and controlled a series of operations” generated by the Tupac Amaru, said Gen. Hector Cano, former chief of Peru’s Counterterrorism Directorate.

Mr. Chavez failed to appear in court to answer charges and is considered a fugitive.

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