Politics & Government

Did hacker threaten Sanford and lover over affair?

Gov. Sanford returns from Argentina on Tuesday, June 23.
Gov. Sanford returns from Argentina on Tuesday, June 23. Gina Smith/The State/MCT

RIO DE JANEIRO — A television anchor who's the only journalist known to have spoken with South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford's Argentine lover since news of their affair broke last week said the couple received an e-mail threat from the person who hacked into her Hotmail account.

Eduardo Feinmann, who worked with Maria Belen Chapur when she was a translator for Argentina's C5N news channel, said in a telephone interview from Buenos Aires that a member of Chapur's family told him of the threat on Saturday.

He said the family member told him that the e-mail from the unidentified person warned both Sanford and Chapur that "you don't know who you are messing with." He said he didn't know how either of them responded.

Feinmann said he was "totally certain" that the threat allegation is true. "Belen Chapur and her family never lie," he said. "They are very well respected."

Sanford's spokesman, Joel Sawyer, declined to comment. Chapur couldn't be reached.

The alleged threat adds to the mystery of who hacked into Chapur's Hotmail account and pirated the couple's love notes.

Chapur said in an e-mail to Feinmann, which the anchorman read on the air Sunday night, that her Hotmail account was hacked into around Nov. 24. She became aware of the intrusion shortly thereafter and by Dec. 8 had succeeded in having the account closed.

Feinmann said he was told that the e-mail threatening the couple arrived before Christmas. The State newspaper in Columbia, S.C., didn't receive the electronic copies of the e-mails — five in all — until Dec. 30.

The e-mails proved to be crucial to Sanford's undoing. Two staff members from The State confronted Sanford's staff about the e-mails on Wednesday last week after Sanford claimed that he'd been alone in Argentina and had spent his time there driving along the coast. Sanford later that day held a news conference where he confessed to the affair.

After the alleged threat was sent, Sanford had at least two more liaisons with Chapur, once in January in the Hamptons in New York and then again over Father Day's weekend in Argentina.

Chapur, a 41-year-old mother of two teenage boys, remains something of a mystery. She's known to speak English, French and Portuguese and to be an avid jogger. However, she's stayed out of public view in recent days and, with the exception of the e-mail to Feinmann, has made no public statements on the affair.

In the e-mail to Feinmann, she didn't even mention Sanford, tacitly acknowledging the affair only by saying that her private life "has been made public enough already."

She defended a friend who accompanied her on a July 2008 trip to Brazil against published allegations that he was the hacker, saying that he was "incapable of such a thing."

She also said she thought she knew who the hacker was, but because she couldn't prove it, she was obligated to keep the person's identity secret.

(Leroy Chapman of The State in Columbia, S.C., contributed to this article.)


Is Mark Sanford crazy? Some in S. Carolina now wonder

Here's what Sanford's lover wrote to Argentine journalist

Sanford's only the latest GOP rising star to crash and burn

Barbour takes over GOP governors group after Sanford resigns

Sanford met with mistress on taxpayer-funded trip

Follow South American news at McClatchy's Inside South America

Related stories from McClatchy DC