Just over two weeks after the University of Washington’s Center for Human Rights filed a lawsuit in federal court against the CIA for the intelligence agency’s refusal to release declassified documents, the office of the center’s director was broken into, with data and equipment stolen.
Sensitive documents, including personal details about ongoing investigations in El Salvador, pertaining to a lawsuit filed by the University of Washington against the the CIA were stolen from the office of Professor Angelina Godoy, University officials reported on Wednesday.
“We are concerned because it is also possible this was an act of retaliation for our work.”
The robbery has been described by university officials as a “possible act of retaliation” by inviduals interested in compromising the university’s case against the CIA due to circumstances that suggest this wasn’t just a common burglary.
“We are concerned because it is also possible this was an act of retaliation for our work. There are a few elements that make this an unusual incident,” the Center for Guman Rights said in a statement.
Following the incident, Center for Human Rights Director Dr. Angelina Godoy reported that her desktop computer was stolen along with a hard drive containing about 90 percent of the information relating to the center’s research in El Salvador. However, according to the center, what was peculiar about the circumstances is that her office was the only one targetted and that the stolen hard drive has no real monetary value; what was valuable was the data on the drive.
“Lastly, the timing of this incident — in the wake of the recent publicity around our freedom of information lawsuit against the CIA regarding information on a suspected perpetrator of grave human rights violations in El Salvador — invites doubt as to potential motives,” added the press statement.
On Oct. 2 the center filed a lawsuit under the Freedom of Information Act alleging that the CIA is illegally withholding information on retired Salvadoran Army officer, Col. Sigifredo Ochoa, who is currently under criminal investigation for complicity in the 1981 Santa Cruz massacre in El Salvador.
The lawsuit hopes to support justice-seeking survivors of the U.S-backed counterinsurgency against left-wing rebels that left more than 75,000 people dead and over 30,000 disappeared between 1980 and 1992.
“Access to the documents ... could facilitate justice proceedings in these and other cases of grave rights abuses,” the lawsuit claims.