US Spy Agency Confirms 1980s Link to Charles Taylor

Posted January 19th, 2012 at 10:05 am (UTC-5)
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A U.S. intelligence agency has confirmed it worked with former Liberian leader Charles Taylor, who is now on trial for war crimes at The Hague, during his rise to power.

The Boston Globe newspaper reported the finding this week after receiving confirmation through a Freedom of Information Act request.

The paper reports that the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency, the Pentagon's spy arm, says its agents and the Central Intelligence Agency worked with Mr. Taylor beginning in the early 1980s.

The newspaper reports the Defense Intelligence Agency would not reveal any further details about the relationship, saying that doing so would harm national security.

Rumors of Mr. Taylor's involvement with U.S. intelligence agencies have circulated since 2009 when he testified during his war crimes trial that U.S. officials helped him escape from a Boston prison in 1985.

Mr. Taylor is awaiting a verdict in the trial held by the United Nations-backed Special Court for Sierra Leone. He has pleaded not guilty to charges of murder, rape and deploying child soldiers during a civil war in Liberia's neighbor, Sierra Leone.

Mr. Taylor allegedly supported rebels during the war in exchange for looted diamonds.

The former Liberian leader was educated in the United States before returning to Liberia and becoming one of Africa's most notorious warlords.

He served as president of Liberia from 1997 to 2003.

If convicted, Mr. Taylor faces a maximum sentence of life in prison.