CIA renegade Agee paid by Cubans, officials say NTC

August 11, 1992|By Los Angeles Times

WASHINGTON -- Philip Agee, a renegade CIA officer who has conducted a long-running public crusade against the agency, has taken money repeatedly from the Cuban intelligence service, according to a high-ranking Cuban defector and two senior CIA officials.

The money was provided to Cuba by the KGB, the former Soviet spy agency now reorganized under Russia's control, specifically support Mr. Agee, said Florintino Aspillaga Lombard, who served as a major in Cuba's Direccion General de Inteligencia, or DGI, before his defection. Altogether, payments funneled to Agee could total "$1 million or more," Mr. Aspillaga said in a recent interview.

Now 57 years old and living in Germany, Mr. Agee flatly denies he has taken Cuban money. "My relationship with Cuba has been solidarity with the revolution, not espionage," he insisted in one of several telephone interviews.

One of a dozen or so former CIA officers who have become vocal critics of the organization, Mr. Agee is probably best the known to the public -- and the most hated within the agency. He is blamed by many U.S. officials for exposing a CIA station chief, Richard S. Welch, who was later murdered by leftist terrorists in Athens, Greece, in 1975.

In addition to the information provided by Mr. Aspillaga, a second Cuban defector has told the CIA that Mr. Agee received funds from Cuban President Fidel Castro's government in return for his anti-CIA work, according to sources.

Based on the defectors' statements, former CIA chief William H. Webster and another agency official have given depositions accusing Mr. Agee of having been paid for his efforts to discredit and disrupt CIA activities.

In the court documents, Mr. Webster declared that Mr. Agee has been a "paid consultant to, and otherwise assisted, one or more hostile intelligence services" since at least 1983, and perhaps earlier. Mr. Agee's repeated public statements identifying CIA officers and operations have endangered agents and jeopardized their activities, Mr. Webster said.

In a separate document, CIA officer Lee E. Carle declared that "Agee has been a paid adviser to the Cuban government." He said the agency received this information "from two reliable human sources who have provided accurate information in the past." One of those sources, Mr. Carle noted, also stated that Mr. Agee had trained Nicaraguan officials "in the detection of U.S. intelligence personnel and activities."

Such payments, if they occurred, would seriously undermine Mr. Agee's credibility as a critic of alleged U.S. intelligence abuses. Mr. Agee, who travels on a German passport, gives lectures attacking the CIA at least a dozen times a year on U.S. college campuses and before liberal audiences.

The statements by Mr. Webster and Mr. Carle were submitted as part of the U.S. government's effort to continue denying Mr. Agee a U.S. passport. Mr. Agee's U.S. passport was lifted in 1979 because of his anti-CIA efforts.

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