John E. Peterson

Proudly Serving Pennsylvania's Fifth Congressional District

For Immediate Release March 8, 2006

 Contact:  Chris Tucker (202) 225-5121





Peterson asks Secretary Rice to press Chileans on case of missing PSU professor


Congressman joins Sens. Specter, Santorum in urging further action on Boris Weisfeiler's disappearance


Washington, DC U.S. Rep. John E. Peterson (PA-05) called upon U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice this afternoon to lodge a formal inquiry with Chilean President Michelle Bachelet as to the fate and possible whereabouts of missing Penn State professor Boris Weisfeiler. Secretary Rice will be visiting Ms. Bachelet this weekend ahead of her presidential inauguration ceremony.  

"The case of Boris Weisfeiler is a tragedy of the highest order, made worse, in many ways, by a lack of meaningful information from or action by the Chilean government," said Peterson. "With the inauguration of new Chilean president just around the corner, we're simply asking Secretary Rice to bring Ms. Bachelet up to speed on the case, and hopefully leave with a commitment from the Chilean government that it will do what's necessary to get some answers to our questions."  

Mr. Weisfeiler, a Russian-born mathematics professor at Penn State, vanished while on a hiking trip near the border between Chile and Argentina in January of 1985. After a brief investigation, Chilean authorities concluded that Weisfeiler had fallen into a river and drowned during his trip.  

Evidence later surfaced, corroborated by several declassified government documents, that Weisfeiler was actually detained by former dictator Augusto Pinochet and his soldiers, who presumed Weisfeiler to be an agent of the CIA, or a Russian or Jewish spy. He was reportedly taken to the German settlement of Colonia Dignidad, but beyond that, little more is known of his fate.  

Today's letter, signed by Sens. Santorum, Specter, and several others members of Congress from both chambers, is just the latest effort by Congressman Peterson to unearth details of Mr. Weisfeiler's disappearance and bring about an open and comprehensive accounting of his fate. Peterson lodged two separate inquires with the State Department in 2005, only to be assured that solving the Weisfeiler case continues to be a top priority of the U.S. government.

"We're not asking for something that cannot be delivered," added Peterson. "We just want answers, and I think Boris's family, friends, and former students are, in the very least, entitled to those."



A complete list of the co-signatories, along with the letter itself, is attached to this release