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Lockerbie: CIA witness gagged by US government



A FORMER CIA agent who claims Libya is not responsible for the Lockerbie bombing is being gagged by the US government under state secrecy laws and faces 10 years in prison if herevealsanyinformation about the terrorist attack.

United Nations diplomats are outraged that the US government is apparently suppressing a potential key trial witness. Diplomats are now demanding that the CIA agent, Dr Richard Fuisz, be released from the gagging order. Fuisz, a multi-millionaire businessman and pharmaceutical researcher, was, according to US intelligence sources, the CIA's key operative in the Syrian capital Damascus during the 1980s where he also had business interests.

One month before a court order was served on him by the US government gagging him from speaking on the grounds of national security, he spoke to US congressional aide Susan Lindauer, telling her he knew the identities of the Lockerbie bombers and claiming they were not Libyan.

Lindauer, shocked by Fuisz's claims, immediately compiled notes on the meeting which formed the basis of a later sworn affidavit detailing Fuisz's claims. One month after their conversation, in October 1994, a court in Washington DC issued an order barring him from revealing any information on the grounds of "military and state secrets privilege".

Whencontactedbythe Sunday Herald last night, Fuisz said when asked if he was a CIA agent in Syria in the 1980s: "That is not an issue I can confirm or deny. I am not allowed to speak about these issues. In fact, I can't even explain to you why I can't speak about these issues." Fuisz did, however, say that he would not take any action againstanewspaperwhich named him as a CIA agent.

Congressional aide Lindauer, who was involved in early negotiations over the Lockerbie trial, claims Fuisz made "unequivocal statements É to me that he has first-hand knowledge about the Lockerbie case". In her affidavit, she goes on: "Dr Fuisz has told me that he can identify who orchestrated and executed the bombing. Dr Fuisz has said that he can confirm absolutely that noLibyannationalwas involved in planning or executing the bombing of PanAm 103, eitherinanytechnicalor advisory capacity whatsoever."

Fuisz's statements to Lindauer support the claims of the two Libyan accused who are to incriminate a number of terrorist organisations, including the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command, which had strong links to Syria and Iran.

Lindauer said Fuisz told her he could provide information on Middle Eastern terrorists, and referred to Lockerbie as an “example of an unsolved bombing case that he said he has the immediate capability to resolve”.

Lindauer says Fuisz told her CIA staff had destroyed reports he sent them on Lockerbie. Lindauer also refers in her affidavit to speculation that the USA shifted any connection to Lockerbie away from Syria to Libya in return for its support during the Gulf war.

She added that Fuisz told her: “If the [US] government would let me, I could identify the men behind this attack today. I could do the right thing … I could go into any crowded restaurant and pick out these men … I can tell you their home addresses … You won’t find [them] anywhere in Libya. You will only find [them] in Damascus. I was investigating on the ground and I know.”

The 1994 gagging order was issued following disclosures by Fuisz during other legal proceedings about alleged illegal exports of military equipment to Iraq. The order claims that the information held by Fuisz is vital to the “nation’s security or diplomatic relations” and can not be revealed “no matter how compelling the need for, and relevance of, the information”. The submission also makes clear that the government is empowered to “protect its interests in this case in the future”, thereby gagging Fuisz permanently.

Details of Fuisz’s gagging have been passed to the United Nations, including UN secretary general Kofi Annan, Russia’s UN ambassador Sergey Lavrov and the Libyan UN ambassador, as well as representatives of France and China. The report on the Fuisz gagging, containing Lindauer’s affidavit, refers to “the history of US interference … [and] … sabotage by the United States”.

One senior UN diplomat said: “In the interests of natural justice, Dr Fuisz should be released from any order which prevents him telling what he knows of the PanAm bombing.” With Fuisz prohibited from speaking, neither the defence nor prosecution can call him as a witness.

A legal source close to Fuisz said: “We want the truth out. The naming of knowledgeable witnesses who can’t be called would utterly change the face of this trial. Dr Fuisz obviously cannot claim he has any knowledge because of national security issues and he could face 10 years in jail. However, if he is not allowed to talk the entire case should be dropped.

“Apart from the US government freeing him from the gag, the only way to allow him to speak would be to subpoena him to the Scottish Court, but the court has no power of subpoena in America.”

The Sunday Herald will make the Lindauer affadvit and Fuisz gagging order available to both the Crown and defence if they require the documents.

28 May 2000