Lomas de Zamora federal judge Federico Villena on Tuesday ordered the arrest of 22 people, including Susana Martinengo, the co-ordinator of presidential documentation during the 2015-2019 Mauricio Macri presidency, on charges of illegal espionage during that administration against various political leaders, including Vice-President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner.
Apart from Martinengo, other important arrests were Jorge “Turco” Sáez, policeman Leandro Araque and the lawyer Facundo Melo, all formerly employed by AFI Federal Intelligence Agency.
According to the testimony given by Melo and Araque to the Congress investigative commission, they reported to Martinengo inside the Casa Rosada in the course of over a dozen meetings as from mid-2018.
Apart from the above quartet, Villena also ordered arrest warrants for the brothers Emiliano and Guillermo Matta, Mercedes Funes, Maria Fermani, Daiana Baldasarre, Denise Tenorio, María Sáez, Jorge Ochoa, Andrés Rodríguez, Gustavo Ciccarelli, Juan Carlos Rodríguez, Diego Dalmau Pereyra, Javier Bustos, Jonathan Nievas, Martin Terra, Dominique Lasaigues and Mariano Flores.
Meanwhile, the judge has to resolve whether to remand in custody Darío Nieto, who formerly served as Macri’s private secretary. Nieto's flat was raided last week and he has requested exemption from jail. According to reports, that request will likely be rejected.
Villena is trying to ascertain whether Martinengo passed on her intelligence reports to Nieto, who charges that the investigation is a move from Kirchnerite figures seeking to tarnish the image of the Macri administration.
According to Perfil, sources close to former president Macri say he will remain silent on the issue until the investigation moves against him, at which point he will reject the allegations and begin his political defence by alleging the probe is a form of persecution on the part of the judge. The PRO leader has appointed former prosecutor Pablo Lanusse as his defence attorney.
Sources close to Macri briefed repeatedly this week that the former president had no relationship with Martinengo, despite photographs emerging of the two in conversation at an event. They say the image is no proof of a relationship and say the suspicions are being created from nothing.
However, one website this week hunted down a 2015 video taken at a campaign event in San Martín, Buenos Aires Province. In it, Martinengo says that Macri "has trusted me - I am only an instrument of the City government, everything I do is at his request."