Charles Taylor did not work for the United States’ top spy agency while he was a rebel leader in Liberia, but did receive sophisticated communication equipment from the agency in the hope that Mr. Taylor’s forces could help protect American citizens and property during Liberia’s brutal civil conflict, he told the Special Court for Sierra Leone today.
Prosecutors have previously accused Mr. Taylor of working for the United States’ Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) while at the same time collaborating with the Libyan government which provided support to his National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL) rebel group. In his re-examination today, the former president denied working for the CIA.
“I have never, ever, and will not ever work for the CIA or any other intelligence agency, never, no,” the former president told Special Court for Sierra Leone judges today.
Mr. Taylor’s lead defense lawyer, Courtenay Griffiths, further asked the former president about prosecution allegations that he provided information to the CIA. Mr. Taylor insisted that he did not. However, Mr. Taylor did return to a statement he made during cross-examination on November 16, 2009, in which he denied that he was an agent of the CIA but indicated that his NPFL rebel group did share information with the US intelligence agency.
“The organization [NPFL] provided information to the CIA. The NPFL at the time did provide information to the CIA and there was information from the CIA to us too. There was exchange of information, mostly from between 1991-92,” Mr. Taylor said.
Mr. Taylor also said that the CIA provided sophisticated communications equipments to the NPFL because they wanted his rebel group to protect American citizens and properties in Liberia during the country’s conflict.
In other developments today, Mr. Taylor denied prosecution allegations that he used his telephone services in his detention facility to manipulate witnesses set to testify for the prosecution. Prosecutors have previously alleged that Mr. Taylor worked with associates in Liberia to intimate and discourage people from testifying against him.
Mr. Taylor today dismissed the allegations, telling judges that the court’s registrar, who oversees his detention in The Hague, has never accused him of misusing the telephone services provided to him. He said that all his telephone calls are fully supervised and are arranged after intensive investigations on who he wants to call.
“First, I have to submit a number of an individual that I would like to call at some time, the process takes two weeks for the Sierra Leonean court and the facilities to do their security checks on the number and the individual,” Mr. Taylor said. “After about two weeks, that number is approved for calling. I cannot just automatically get up and say, please call this number, no, it has to be vetted and approved by the Sierra Leonean court.”
Mr. Taylor also today distanced himself from a January 5, 1999 letter written by former Sierra Leonean president, Ahmed Tejan Kabbah, to the United Nations Secretary General in which the former Liberian president was accused of providing support to Revolutionary United Front (RUF) rebels who were at that time waging war in Sierra Leone.
“I have a mountain of evidence that rebel offensive has been supported and sustained by the Taylor government,” President Kabbah’s letter noted.
Dismissing the letter as nonsense, Mr. Taylor explained how he would have reacted if he had received a copy of the said letter.
“I would have taken a different disposition during that particular period that Kabbah — who was calling me and talking to me and visiting Liberia — could write a letter making such an accusation. It would have probably changed me significantly,” Mr. Taylor said.
The former Liberian president added that if he had received the said letter, he would have removed himself from the Committee of Five, a committee established by West African leaders to facilitate a peaceful end to the conflict in Sierra Leone.
Mr. Taylor is charged with 11 counts of war crimes, crimes against humanity and other serious violations of international humanitarian law in relation to his alleged role in supporting and controlling Sierra Leonean rebels who committed mass crimes during the brutal civil conflict in his neighboring country.
Mr. Taylor’s re-examination continues tomorrow.