David Spencer

David Spencer

David Spencer (born 1963 in Moncton, New Brunswick) was a university dropout who moved to Vancouver in the 1980s where he found work at an alternate radio station. There he met Christine Lamont, a student at Simon Fraser University. The two soon became supporters of the Sandinista movement in Nicaragua. In 1989, using false passports, the two traveled to Managua, the capital of Nicaragua. They spent six months in Managua, supposedly, as translators for a Spanish newspaper.

In June 1989, the two next traveled to Brazil. Sometime between June and December 1989, they made contact with a cell of the Chilean Revolutionary Left Movement living in exile. In December, the group kidnapped Brazilian magnate Abílio dos Santos Diniz. The kidnappers demanded $30 million dollars as a ransom. Diniz was held in an underground for six days before being rescued by Brazilian police. Ten people were arrested including David Spencer and Christine Lamont. In 1990, the two were both sentenced to 30 years in prison for kidnapping.

Both Lamont and Spencer professed that they were innocent victims and had no involvement in the kidnapping. Their plight became a cause célèbre in Canada and led to a strain in relations between Canada and Brazil. The couple were able to garner a lot of support from family, fellow Canadians, the news media and the Canadian government. Lamont's parents were very active in gaining support for the two and apparently spent thousands of dollars support trying to win their freedom .

While both Lamont and Spencer stated they were innocent, there were several inconsistencies with their story. First, trial transcripts show that the two had rented two houses in [San Paulo] using false passports and letters of reference. One of these houses was later used to house Diniz. Secondly, these transcripts state that Spencer had obtained the materials the cell later used to house Diniz. Finally, they also state that Spencer had actually participated in guarding the kidnap victim .

Lamont and Spencer continued to maintain their innocence, however, their story started to unravel four years later when a secret weapons cache in Managua exploded (the Sandinistas had lost power by this point). Among the material exposed by the explosion were documents that linked both Lamont and Spencer to the Diniz kidnapping. Faced with these revelations, Lamont admitted that they had been involved in the kidnapping. [http://www.canadianencyclopedia.ca/index.cfm?PgNm=TCE&Params=M1ARTM0010355] [http://www.rrj.ca/issue/1996/summer/230/] Though initially sentenced to 28 years, in 1996 Spencer and Lamont were released were transferred from their Brazilian prison to Canadian prison and soon after set free on parole where they would continue to serve their sentence.

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