The National Academy of Sciences yesterday announced a human rights drive to pressure Argentina, the Soviet Union and Uruguay on the whereabouts of eight scientists imprisoned in those countries for political crimes in the last two years.
Identified in telegrams the academy sent to the three countries were five Argentinian physicists who disappeared last year; one Soviet biologist believed to be in a Siberian labor camp after circulating literature about the Lithuanian Catholic Church; another Soviet physicist arrested two months ago because he was present when police broke into a dissident's apartment, and an imprisoned Uruguayan mathematician whose pelvis was believed broken when he admitted being a Communist two years after the party was outlawed in Uruguay.
The academy said it hoped to pressure the three countries by persistently calling attention to the plights of the imprisoned scientist, by having American scientists visit the countries and ask to see the scientists.
"It would be foolish to deny that it might be counterproductive to do all these things," Clark University's Robert W. Kates said, "but from everything we know and hear speaking out is more desirable than silence."
Geographer Kates, chairman of the academy's new Human Right Committee, said, "Our attempt here is to signal our concern for all humanity repressed and tortures."
The five physicists who have not been heard from in a year in Argentina were arrested "for participation with guerrillas and for "suspected association with subversives." Academy scientists said they feared at least two and perhaps all five might be dead.
"There is no positive evidence the Argentinians are alive," said Dr. Berta V. Scharrer, professor of anatomy at New York's Albert Einstein College of Medicine. "We have seen no death notices but there is great concern that at least some of them may no longer be alive."
Two of the Argentinian physicists disappeared with their wives, the academy said. They were identified as Federico Alvarez Rojas and Eduardo Pasquini. The academy said a third physicist identified as Gabriela Carabelli was arrested with her daughter last year.
The two other Argentinians were Juan Carlos Gallardo and Antonio Misetich, both of whom were educated in the United States. A staff scientist at the National Atomic Energy Commission in Buenos Aires until 1970, Misetich was arrested last July and by November was listed as "not registered" by the Argentine Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The two Soviet scientists were identified by the academy as biologists Sergei A. Kovalev and physicist Yuriy F. Orlov.
orlov was arrested Feb. 10 after repeatedly speaking out of human rights and fellow dissidents. Kovalev was arrested more than two years ago for publishing and circulating a journal titled "The Chronical of the Lithuanian Catholic Church" and sent to a labor camp.
The eight scientist whose human rights the academy said were violated is Jose Luis Massera, described as one of the three or four best mathematicians in Latin America who was arrested in October, 1975, after admiting he was a Communist in a country where the party was outlawed in 1973. The academy said Massera was tortured and his pelvis believed broken from the torture.