US judge affirms reward in Peru spy capture


MIAMI (AP) — A Venezuelan man who helped Peru capture fugitive spymaster Vladimiro Montesinos is entitled to collect $8.3 million as a reward for his assistance, a U.S. judge has ruled.

U.S. District Judge Marcia Cooke this week rejected Peru's request that she reconsider a previous order in favor of Jose Guevara, who now lives in the South Florida suburb of Weston. The total includes a $5 million reward from the government of Peru plus $3.3 million in interest, an amount Guevara has spent seven years trying to collect. The total includes a $5 million reward from the government of Peru — an amount Guevara has spent seven years trying to collect — plus $3.3 million in interest.

"After a long, arduous fight, Mr. Guevara and his family are now one step closer to receiving the promised reward," said Guevara attorney Michael Diaz Jr.

But Peru signaled Friday it was not ready to give up and could still appeal.

"Peru has acute concern about the interference by a U.S. court in its internal affairs," said Peru attorney Mark Cymrot. "Peru is studying its options at this point."

Montesinos was captured in Venezuela in 2001 based on information provided by Guevara, who had worked for Montesinos. Guevara had been intercepted by the FBI in Miami en route to collect money from a bank. He was told he could avoid criminal prosecution and collect Peru's reward if he divulged information about the spymaster.

Montesinos is serving up to 20 years in Peru for crimes including corruption and running guns to Colombian rebels during the autocratic 10-year reign of ex-President Alberto Fujimori. Montesinos had power over the military and security forces from 1990 to 2000, allegedly using influence, bribery and blackmail to achieve his goals.

Peru initially sought to dismiss Guevara's claims based on U.S. laws that protect sovereign governments from lawsuits. But a U.S. appeals court ruled that Peru had engaged in "commercial activity" by offering the reward, one of the exceptions to the sovereignty claim.

"By enforcing Peru's promise to pay Mr. Guevara, the U.S. courts have recognized the basic principle that a party will be held to its word," said Carlos Gonzalez, another of Guevara's attorneys.