The denouncer’s dilemma

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Many of the spontaneous letters of denunciation sent to the PIDE were anonymous. Whether the denunciation was ‘genuine’ or instrumental, their authors were obviously keen to avoid any direct contact with the secret police. But by making an anonymous denunciation, the denouncer in effect gave up any claim to a ‘reward’ for his/her deed. The author of the present letter, reporting on the activities of a group of ‘subversive’ individuals in January 1962, appears to have found a solution to this dilemma, by promising to reveal his identity upon conclusion of the case – ‘to see if you give me something because I am very poor’. The move may have been designed to lend the denunciation greater verisimilitude and ensure that the PIDE responded to it. It may also have resulted from the denouncer’s own uncertainty or instrumental purposes regarding the information provided. But the determination not to miss out on any potential material compensation was also undoubtedly present in many of the letters.

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