Source – sutherlandsalute.blogspot.ca
– Cuba Holds Ex-C.I.A. Man U.S. Sought For 15 Years:
Cuba has detained Frank Terpil, the cashiered C.I.A. officer who has been fleeing American justice for 15 years and is wanted on an array of charges that include conspiracy to commit murder and the sale of plastic explosives to Libya, a Canadian official said today.
Colin Stewart, a spokesman for the Canadian Foreign Ministry in Ottawa, said in a telephone interview that his country’s embassy in Havana had learned in recent weeks that the Cuban authorities were holding Mr. Terpil. Cuban officials could not be reached for comment today.
Clinton Administration officials said they had no independent confirmation of the report, which they said was passed to the Canadian Government by a Canadian businessman.
It was not clear whether Havana intends to turn Mr. Terpil over to the United States. A New York State court sentenced him in 1981 to 53 years in prison after trying him in absentia on charges of conspiring to smuggle 10,000 guns to South America. Earlier this year, Cuba arrested Robert Vesco, an American swindler long sought by federal prosecutors, but has not moved to return him to the United States.
The Washington Post, which reported Mr. Terpil’s detention today, said that three uniformed officers of Cuba’s Interior Ministry could be seen standing guard at his house near the Cuban capital.
Several Administration officials said Mrr. Terpil’s detention, if confirmed, would appear to be part of Cuba’s drive to attract more foreign investment. Mr. Terpil and Mr. Vesco have sought over the years to be middlemen for deals with Cuba, a role useful for evading the United States trade embargo but an impediment if Havana is looking for less clandestine deals. American officials say they believe that both men have cooperated with Cuban intelligence.
“There’s a whole unsavory cast of characters that have been hanging out in Havana for years,” said one American official. “My initial reaction on Vesco is that they would never let him go because he knew too much. Terpil probably falls in the same category. He’s been there for a while, they probably used him for a few things, and then discarded him.”
Mr. Terpil came to public notice in the early 1980’s, after it was disclosed that he and another former C.I.A. officer, Edwin Wilson, had supplied arms, plastic explosives and training to the Libyan Government of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi.
A Federal grand jury indicted him and Mr. Wilson in 1980 for a conspiracy that included the training of Libyan terrorists in making bombs out of lamps, ashtrays and alarm clocks. In 1981, another federal grand jury indicted Mr. Terpil for selling arms, ammunition and torture devices to the Government of Idi Amin, the Ugandan dictator who has since been overthrown.
Mr. Terpil fled the United States in September 1980, a year before the New York State court convicted him of conspiring to sell 10,000 machine guns and 10 million rounds of ammunition to undercover agents posing as Latin American revolutionaries.
Mr. Terpil, who was dismissed by the C.I.A. in 1971 after a six-year career as a low-level operative, said in a 1981 interview from Beirut on the CBS News program “60 Minutes” that “a buck is a buck is a buck.” Once a person is a spy, he said, that is “primarily his livelihood, that’s what he knows.”
Mr. Wilson was eventually lured back to the United States and convicted, but Mr. Terpil stayed on the run, moving from Beirut to Libya and, eventually, to Cuba.
Mr. Stewart, the spokesman for the Canadian Foreign Ministry, said that his country had been warning businessmen to stay away from deals involving Mr. Terpil after questions were raised about his conduct. “Canadian businessmen have complained,” Mr. Stewart said. “I can confirm that the Canadian Embassy has been aware of Terpil’s activities for quite some time.” He said that Canada, however, has not made any request for Mr. Terpil’s arrest.
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