Deposed Peruvian leader Alberto Fujimori heavily criticized his former spymaster in an article Thursday, calling the rise of his top adviser a “cancer” on his second term in office.
Fujimori, who has been in self-exile in Japan since November, wrote in the Yomiuri newspaper that Vladimiro Montesinos quietly expanded his influence in the late ‘90s behind the busy president’s back.
“I am politically responsible for having allowed this cancer to grow,” Fujimori said. He added, however, that he was too preoccupied with Peru’s economic and political problems to notice.
Fujimori, whose authoritarian rule lasted 10 years, was declared unfit for office by Peru’s Congress in November after he resigned amid corruption scandals involving his former spy chief.
Montesinos is being sought by Peruvian authorities on charges of money-laundering and influence-peddling. Fujimori, who has denied any wrongdoing, could also face charges if he returns to Peru.
While Fujimori took some of the blame for Montesinos’ rise, he depicted his former lieutenant as a devious operator who took advantage of the president’s close attention to Peru’s problems to amass power.
Fujimori also suggested that others — including the United States — shared part of the blame for Montesinos’ rise because they failed to tell him about his spymaster’s illicit dealings.
“Until 1998, no one gave me any advice or warning to keep Montesinos away from the administration,” he wrote in the article, second in a four-part series in one of Japan’s most-read newspapers. “The U.S. government of course did not touch on the matter at all.”
The former Peruvian president also blamed Montesinos for encouraging him to run for a controversial third term by suggesting that a triumphant opposition would attack Fujimori if he stood down. Fujimori also said Montesinos wanted his boss to remain in office so he could continue his illicit moneymaking schemes.
Fujimori’s government approved exile for Montesinos in Panama, but the former spy returned to Peru in October, and Fujimori personally led a manhunt for him. Montesinos fled Peru on Oct. 29 and has been on the run since.
The Japanese government recently announced that Fujimori — the son of Japanese immigrants — held Japanese citizenship, meaning he could remain in his ancestral homeland indefinitely.