NEW YORK — Liberia’s Charles Taylor, the first African head of state to be prosecuted for war crimes by an international tribunal, used to work for the CIA, the Boston Globe newspaper reported this week.
The report, based on information uncovered through a freedom of information request made six years ago, said that Taylor had a relationship with the US spy agency for years, although the details of what he actually did were unclear.
“The Pentagon’s response to the Globe states that the details of Taylor’s role on behalf of the spy agencies are contained in dozens of secret reports — at least 48 separate documents — covering several decades. However, the exact duration and scope of the relationship remains hidden,” the daily said.
The former Liberian president is awaiting the verdict in his war crimes trial at the Special Court for Sierra Leone in The Netherlands.
He is accused on 11 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity on claims that he armed Sierra Leone’s Revolutionary United Front (RUF) in exchange for illegally mined, so-called “blood diamonds.”
The Sierra Leone civil war claimed some 120,000 lives in the 10 years to 2001, with RUF rebels, described by the prosecution as Taylor’s “surrogate army,” mutilating thousands of civilians by hacking off their limbs.
Taylor pleaded not guilty to all charges.
The Boston Globe report backed up long-standing rumors of Taylor’s work with the Central Intelligence Agency.
According to the report, he started working with the agency in the early 1980s. After he was indicted and left the presidency in 2003, he lived openly in Nigeria, which the United States considers a regional ally. He was finally handed over to the international court in 2006.