Clarín newspaper's star investigative reporter Daniel Santoro said Sunday that the allegations suggesting he partook in an illegal espionage ring with deep roots in the country's Judiciary are part of a conspiracy to discredit him and the ongoing investigations into Kirchner-era corruption.
Marcelo D'Alessio "was one of more than 100 sources within the Judiciary, and I'm not exaggerating when I say this. I met him two years ago. But there are journalists who have known him since well before then", Santoro told Perfil's Jorge Fontevecchia in a wide-ranging interview published this weekend.
Santoro is mentioned 15 times in Dolores Judge Alejo Ramos Padilla's investigation into jailed lawyer Marcelo D'Alessio's alleged extortion operations within the Judiciary.
D'Alessio is accused of operating on behalf of Federal Prosecutor Carlos Stornelli to extort money from business people tied to the "notebooks of corruption" investigation, which Stornelli is leading in the pre-trial stage.
The scandal centres around allegations former Kirchner government officials took kick-backs from corruption sector bosses in exchange for public works tenders. Santoro has investigated Kirchner-era corruption extensively.
"I am a small piece of this puzzle. They have thrown me into it because I work for the Grupo Clarín. But the objective is clear: to remove (federal judge) Claudio Bonadio and destroy the notebooks of corruption case. But the case is not contaminated because D'Alessio has not put even a comma" in the judge's rulings, he said.
Santoro said the Kirchnerite movement was behind the uproar because "they want revenge because in January I published a story about US$50 million dollars which (Claudio) Uberti, a former (Argentine) government official in Venezuela, said he paid (former Venezuela president Hugo) Chávez and Néstor (Kirchner, former Argentina president) for favours in dollars offering Argentina's foreign debt in return", Santoro alleged.
The journalist claimed he has received "strange calls" to his home line which "were not threats but are unresolved incidents".
Santoro also denied he had spied on his colleagues on the Animales Sueltos prime-time debate programme, saying leaked WhatsApp messages with D'Alessio were taken out of context. Santoro is on leave from the programme.