- Ex-CIA man Edwin Wilson, jailed for selling arms to Libya, dies
- Egypt's Mursi says Iran is vital to ending Syria's crisis
- Fake Italian pilot travelled in cockpit, police say
Posted: 22 Sep 2012 06:11 PM PDT
(Reuters) - Former CIA operative Edwin P. Wilson, who was found guilty in 1983 of selling arms to Libya but released from prison in 2004 after a judge threw out the conviction, has died at age 84, a funeral home director said on Saturday.
When Wilson was sent to prison, his was the biggest arms-dealing case in U.S. history.
Wilson died on September 10 of complications from heart valve replacement surgery, said Craig Emmick, director at Columbia Funeral Home and Crematory in Seattle.
Following his release from prison, where Wilson had worked tirelessly to disprove allegations he was a traitor, he had spent recent years living in the Seattle suburb of Edmonds, said a statement from his family on the website of Columbia Funeral Home.
Wilson grew up on a farm in Idaho and joined the CIA in the 1950s after serving in the Korean War as a Marine.
He officially retired from the CIA in 1971 but continued to work for the spy agency as a freelancer, according to a 2003 ruling by U.S. District Judge Lynn Hughes, the Houston-based judge who overturned his conviction.
He ran front companies for the CIA and later built a $23 million fortune with his enterprises, amassing a string of properties including a 2,500-acre (1,011-hectare) farm in Virginia.
In 1982, federal agents arrested Wilson. He was charged in the Southern District of Texas with selling 20 tons of C-4 plastic explosives to the Libyan government of the late Muammar Gaddafi.
Wilson was convicted in that case and other federal cases against him outside of Texas, and was sentenced to a total of 52 years in prison in 1983.
His appeal of the Texas case produced CIA records indicating he had worked for the agency on at least 40 occasions. None of those documents showed the CIA asked him to sell C-4 explosives to Libya, but several showed the agency knew he worked there and requested his help in obtaining information.
Judge Hughes found that U.S. Justice Department prosecutors knew Wilson had worked for the CIA but introduced a false affidavit from a top official with the agency who avowed the CIA never asked Wilson "to perform or provide any services, directly or indirectly."
The judge wrote in a 2003 opinion that "With their knowledge of the nature of Wilson's work for the CIA, they (prosecutors) deliberately deceived the court."
Wilson was released from prison the following year.
A representative from the CIA did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Wilson.
He told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer in 2006 that he was only in Libya to serve the U.S. government.
"I was doing it for them. If they hadn't walked away from me, I wouldn't have ever been convicted," he told the paper.
He is survived by his sons Karl and Erik, sister Leora Pinkston and his longtime girlfriend Cate Callahan, said the statement from his family on the funeral home's website.
(Additional reporting by Jim Wilson; Editing by Xavier Briand)
Copyright © 2012 Reuters
Posted: 22 Sep 2012 05:55 PM PDT
CAIRO (Reuters) - Egypt's Islamist President said on Saturday that having a strong relationship with Iran is important for Egypt at this time to be able to work out a way to end the bloodshed in Syria.
Speaking in a televised interview, his first to state TV since his election last June, President Mohamed Mursi described Iran as "a main player in the region that could have an active and supportive role in solving the Syrian problem."
Mursi, in a move to revive Egypt's role in the region, asked last month for Iran to join a quartet committee he called for which includes Saudi Arabia, Iran, Turkey and Egypt to try to find a solution to the violence in Syria.
Iran is the only state in the quartet that is an ally to Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad and has accused Saudi Arabia and Turkey of helping the rebels who are fighting to topple him. Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Egypt have all demanded that Assad step down. Iran was attacked at the U.N. Security Council last week for its continuous backing of the Syrian regime.
"I don't see the presence of Iran in this quartet as a problem, but is a part of solving the (Syrian) problem," Mursi said, explaining that Iran's close proximity to Syria and its strong ties with it makes it "vital" in resolving the Syrian crisis.
Mursi's comments came after Saudi Arabia stayed away from the quartet's last meeting, which Cairo hosted on September 17. Saudi Arabia's decision was seen by diplomats and western officials as a reaction to the presence of Shi'ite Muslim Iran, the major rival of Sunni Muslim Saudi Arabia in the Middle East.
Saudi Arabia has not officially commented on why it did not attend that meeting and Egyptian officials gave conflicting explanations for its absence.
Mursi said he could meet with top officials of the three states of the Quartet during the United Nations general assembly meeting he will attend in New York this week.
"And we do not have a significant problem with Iran, it (the relation between Egypt and Iran) is normal like with the rest of the world's states," said Mursi who last month became the first Egyptian president to visit the Islamic republic in decades.
AT ODDS WITH THE WEST
Relations between Cairo and Tehran were badly strained after Iran's Islamic revolution in 1979. Egypt signed a peace deal with Israel and became a staunch ally to the U.S. and Europe.
But it is now taking a position at odds with that of Israel and its western and American allies.
Former President Hosni Mubarak, who Mursi replaced after his ouster by a popular uprising last year, never visited the Islamic state in all of his 30 years in power. Mubarak was known for his opposition to the Islamists' rigid style of government.
Mursi has been outspoken about Syria since he took office on June 30. He has described the Syrian government as "oppressive" and said it was an "ethical duty" to support the Syrian people in a speech he gave from Tehran last month at a Non-Aligned Movement summit, which was the reason for Egypt's historic visit to the Islamic state.
"The Syrian regime has to know it is violating all laws and norms in its continuation to shed blood," Mursi said on Saturday, repeating similar comments he made during an Arab league meeting he attended earlier this month and in a previous exclusive interview with Reuters.
The Syrian revolt erupted in March of last year, one month after the Egyptian uprising ended, over similar demands for democracy and freedom. But unlike Mubarak, who quit after only 18 days of protest, Assad sent his military to crush the revolt, leading the rebels to take arms against him and prompting violent battles that have been going on for 17 months.
The United Nations says nearly 20,000 people have been killed in the conflict and more than 235,000 Syrian refugees have registered in Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey, while about 1.2 million people have been displaced within Syria.
PROMISES TO THE PEOPLE
Mursi has vowed to meet the Egyptian people's demands for deeply rooted corruption to be eradicated from all governmental institutions.
He has said many of the changes he made in the leadership of state institutions, which have included the military, the state's auditing units and the state's intelligence department, were aimed at weeding out corruption.
"I won't leave a corrupted person unpunished," Mursi said. "I won't take extraordinary measures but I tell corrupt people that under the law, soon you will be punished," he added.
In a surprise move last month, Mursi dismissed the head of the military council and the military's chief of staff and cancelled a decree the army issued that gave it legislative powers in the absence of parliament.
The army last June dissolved the Islamist-led parliament shortly before issuing a decree that was seen as a bid to restrict Mursi's role.
When asked about the army moves, Mursi said they were "obligatory," without giving details about the true reasons behind them. Yet he said he felt the people approved of the moves and saw them as strengthening "democratic and civilian rule."
But Mursi did not forget to salute military forces to deflect concern about a hidden conflict between the Islamist president and the army forces after the recent decisions.
"The military forces made a huge effort to protect the revolution. ... It is an institution respected by the Egyptian people and the President of Egypt," Mursi said.
Mursi also said he would back any legislation to put limits on minimum and maximum wages to achieve social justice, work to advance education and medical insurance systems and the state's political and security status to increase the flow of investment, which was reduced after the uprising.
When asked about how he felt after he knew he won the presidential vote to become Egypt's first freely elected civilian president, Mursi said: "I was filled by an overwhelming feeling of responsibility."
"The targets are big, hopes are wide, resources are huge and strong efforts are requested," Mursi said.
(Additional reporting by Ali Abdelaty; editing by Todd Eastham)
Copyright © 2012 Reuters
Posted: 22 Sep 2012 05:15 PM PDT
ROME (Reuters) - A man who posed as an airline pilot and travelled in the cockpit of at least one plane was arrested in Turin Airport using forged identity cards and wearing a pilot's uniform, Italian police said on Saturday.
The 32-year-old, whose real name was not released, allegedly created a fake identity as a Lufthansa pilot named "Andrea Sirlo," complete with a Facebook page that included fake flight attendant friends.
Police said they were alerted several months ago after "Sirlo" introduced himself as a captain to a Civil Aviation lieutenant, who became suspicious because he seemed too young for the job.
The national military police tracked down the suspect from photos on his Facebook profile, in which he is shown posing in uniform and sunglasses in front of airplanes.
He was arrested in the check-in area of Turin Airport on Friday.
Police said "Sirlo" had travelled for free on at least one flight as a "third pilot" sitting in the cockpit. They were investigating whether he had flown as an imposter at other times.
Lufthansa declined to comment on whether one of their flights had been involved and said it was a matter for the police.
At a press conference, police displayed a white shirt with epaulettes and a black double-breasted jacket with pilot stripes sewn on the cuffs. They said they also seized fake resumes, airline badges and an airport staff parking permit.
Turin Airport said in a statement it had not issued any permits in the name of the person involved.
A profile on a website where users can track their flights shows "Pilot Andrea Sirlo" flying from Munich Airport to Turin on October 23, 2011. (http://myflightbook.com/logbook/public/ViewPublicFlight.aspx?id=111466)
Munich Airport did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The case recalls the 2002 film "Catch Me If You Can," in which Leonardo DiCaprio played Frank Abagnale, a real-life con man who is said to have flown more than 1,600,000 kilometres (1 million miles) as a fake Pan American pilot in the 1960s.
'Sirlo' is the name of a flight corridor over Turin.
Copyright © 2012 Reuters
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