Released today: the Fuisz files

I am today releasing remarkable documents, which reveal that senior Syrian sources were telling a deepcover CIA agent as late as 1995 that the Syrian based group the PFLP-GC was to blame for Lockerbie. The documents feature in tonight’s Channel 4 News investigation, which I co-produced with reporter Julian Rush, and can be downloaded here. They are prefaced by explanatory notes, which read as follows:

Dr Richard Fuisz’s was an international businessman and deep-cover CIA spy,  who worked in the USSR and across the Middle East during the Eighties and Nineties. As well as having a very successful medical technology company, he ran training programmes for the Saudi military, supplied computers with a secret spying capability to the unwitting Soviets (via Raisa Gorbachev) and had a model agency that supplied the first Miss USSR.

In May 2000, not long after the start of the Lockerbie trial, the defence lawyers got wind of Fuisz, via an associate of his, Susan Lindauer, who said that he had been based in Syria in 1988 and had irrefutable intelligence that Lockerbie was the work of the PFLP-GC. Lindauer also said that he was the subject of a gagging order, a breach of which would result in a significant prison sentence.

On 31 May, defence solicitor Eddie MacKechnie wrote to the US department of justice’s Lockerbie prosecutor Brian Murtagh to ask if Fuisz was indeed prevented from speaking (Document 1). Six weeks later Murtagh wrote back. He confirmed that Fuisz was the subject of a gagging order in relation to another case, which involved the supply of military equipment to Iraq by a company called Terex, however, he claimed that Fuisz was free to talk about Lockerbie, writing: “I found no factual basis to the allegation that any representative of the US Government has taken any action to deter Dr Fuisz from talking to anyone about the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103.” (See Document 2.)

Fuisz insisted that this was not true and that he was the subject of another gagging order that was quite independent of the Terex litigation. Furthermore, he claimed that Murtagh and another DoJ lawyer had advised him that he was not in fact free to talk about Lockerbie. (See Document 3.)

Murtagh again denied it, telling MacKechnie: “You ask whether or not you can assume that the defense is at liberty to ask Dr Fuisz any questions in relation to Pan Am 103, and further whether he is fully at liberty to answer any questions relating to Pan Am 103? The answer to both questions as far as I am concerned is “yes”. The problem here is with Dr Fuisz himself, and not with any court order or attempt by the Government to keep him from talking to the defense about the destruction of Pan Am Flight 103.” (See Document 4.)

MacKechnie replied: “Dr Fuisz insists that it is not the Department of Justice or even the Attorney General herself which possess the authority to release him from what he refers to as his statutory obligations of secrecy.  It has been suggested to us that the President himself, but perhaps more sensibly the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, George Tenet, would be able to release him from any possible remaining inhibitions so that he could provide a statement in relation to Pan Am 103 and the alleged perpetrators of the bombing.” (See Document 5.)

CIA lawyer Robert Eatinger then wrote to Murtagh: “Dr Fuisz has been informed that neither the CIA nor the DoJ pose any objection to his discussing with the defense, or anyone else for that matter, his knowledge of the Pan Am flight 103 bombing. There is and has been no impediment to his being interviewed on this matter… As you and I have discussed, there simply is no court order of which we are aware that in any way limits Dr Fuisz from revealing his knowledge of who bombed Pan Am flight 103. (See Document 6.)

The following day, 13 October 2000, Eatinger wrote to Fuisz. Although the letter downplayed Fuisz’s knowledge of Lockerbie, it is highly significant, because it acknowledged de facto that Fuisz was, indeed, involved with the CIA. Moreover, it conceded that he had been briefed by the CIA about Lockerbie and that they had told him that Jibril was to blame. It also tacitly admitted that, contrary to earlier assurances, he was restricted in what he could say. The key passage read:

“Now that you have clarified that you have no personal knowledge of who is responsible for the bombing of Pan Am flight 103, we can provide you more specific guidance. You may freely identify the number of briefings you received by CIA officials the dates on which you received them. You may identify whom the CIA briefers said was responsible for the bombing of Pan flight 103. However, you may not reveal the identities of the CIA officers, nor the purpose for which you were receiving these security briefings.” (See Document 7.)

Finally, on 6 December 2000, Fuisz was deposed. As well as his own lawyer, a DoJ lawyer and two unnamed CIA officials were also present at the first depositio and three at the second. Fuisz’s story was covered briefly in a few media reports, which suggested that he had been effectively prevented from saying anything that he knew about Lockerbie. However, earlier this year I learnt that this was not true. I came across a lawyer’s note of the first of his two depositions (Document 8) and a transcript of the second (Document 9). Although he was very restricted in what he could say, he nevertheless went on the record with two extraordinary revelations. Firstly, he confirmed that he received multiple briefings from CIA agents in 1989 in which they told him, inter alia, that the PFLP-GC was responsible for Lockerbie. Secondly, and even more significantly, he said that between 1990 and 1995 he was told separately by around 10-15 high level Syrian officials that the group was to blame.  These officials, he said, interacted with the group’s leader, AhmedJibril “on a constant basis”.

It’s very clear from the records of the depositions that Fuisz knew a lot more than he was allowed to say.



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