A Ukrainian by birth, Timerman emigrated to Argentina with his family when he was five years old. The family settled in Buenos Aires, and Timerman later became a naturalized citizen. After a year’s study in an engineering school, he turned to journalism in 1947 and worked as a newspaper reporter. He became a prominent news commentator on radio and television before becoming publisher of two successful weekly news magazines in the 1960’s. After selling his magazine interests in 1971, he cofounded the daily newspaper La Opinión.
The period during which Timerman edited and published La Opinión was among the most violent in Argentinean history. Although his own politics were left of center, he made his paper a voice for moderation that opposed extremism of all shades. As a result he and his paper became targets for violent harassment and bomb threats from both the Right and the Left. In July, 1972, his home was bombed by the Monteneros, an ultraleft guerrilla group. After a military junta took power in March, 1976, La Opinión condemned government violence, urged the release of prisoners taken without warrants, and published the names of those who had disappeared. When the government pressured the paper to desist, some reporters quit; others joined the scores of journalists who “disappeared.”
In the early morning of April 15, 1977, twenty armed men in civilian clothes broke into Timerman’s house and took him away. His family did not learn of his whereabouts for six weeks. For a year he was moved from place to place, beaten, subjected to electric shocks to his genitals, and held in solitary confinement. During intense interrogation sessions, his captors tried to force him to confess to taking part in a Zionist-Montenero guerrilla conspiracy. Timerman later described these experiences in Prisoner Without a Name, Cell Without a Number (1981). Timerman was certain he received especially...
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