Ex-Panama dictator Noriega describes ‘friendly ties’ with CIA
July 7, 2010 2 Comments
By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Panama’s notorious former dictator, Manuel Noriega, has described what he called his “long, friendly relationship” with the CIA in court testimony in France where he is defending charges of money laundering. Speaking on the second day of his trial in Paris, Noriega argued that millions of dollars he deposited in several French bank accounts were CIA payments for his services, not income from illicit drug sales. Panama’s former strongman described in his testimony how he gained power with the help of the CIA in the small but strategically important Central American nation, in 1983. He also listed the services he provided to the CIA during the closing stages of the Cold War, in relation to Cuba, Nicaragua and Iran. But Noriega, who was deposed during the 1989 US invasion of Panama, said the US leadership and the CIA turned against him after he repeatedly refused to take part in a series of covert operations against the leftist Sandinistas government in neighboring Nicaragua. Following his arrest by US troops in 1989, Noriega spent 20 years in US prisons in drugs-related sentences, and was recently extradited to France to face money-laundering charges. The Panamanian government has also requested that he be extradited there, to face charges of political assassination and corruption. The former dictator faces up to 10 years in prison in France, if convicted of all charges against him.