In an exclusive interview Tuesday, a Salvadoran man told The Associated Press that a former CIA operative gave him powerful explosives and cash to carry out a 1997 hotel bombing in Cuba.

Otto Rene Rodriguez said that he was given C-4 explosives and $2,000 by Luis Posada Carriles to enable the bombing at Havana's Melia Cohiba hotel on Aug. 3, 1997. He was later captured in Cuba with 3.3 pounds of C-4 that he said was given to him by Posada.

"Truthfully, looking me in the eyes he cannot say he doesn't know me," Rodriguez told the wire service. "He does know me. He used me like a tool."

Posada, 82, is on trial for lying to US immigration agents about his arrival in the United States in 2005, charges that carry a maximum penalty of 60 years in prison.

"An American prosecutor came here and talked to me, and I promised that if I needed to testify against (the man I knew as) Ignacio Medina, I would," Rodriguez said.

Cuba made Rodriguez available for an interview with The Associated Press to show it was willing to cooperate with the trial.

Interviews with Rodriguez and another confessed hotel bomber, Ernesto Cruz Leon, were conducted Tuesday in the presence of Cuban officials. The Associated Press had no way to verify either of their stories.

With a history of anti-Fidel Castro militancy that dates back to the 1961 CIA-backed Bay of Pigs invasion, Posada worked through the Cold War for intelligence services in Nicaragua, Venezuela, Guatemala, El Salvador, Chile and Argentina.

US documents show he also worked for the CIA from 1965 to June 1976.

Then on October 6, 1976 a Cubana de Aviacion airliner blew up with 73 people aboard, including the Cuban national fencing team, after taking off from Barbados on a flight to Havana that originated in Venezuela. All aboard were killed.

Posada Carriles was arrested in Venezuela on charges stemming from the bombing, but he escaped from prison in 1985 while awaiting trial.

He later turned up in El Salvador running guns to Nicaraguan contra rebels in a clandestine US-backed operation.

In 2000, he was sentenced to eight years in prison in Panama for plotting to assassinate then-Cuban president Fidel Castro at an Ibero American summit. But Posada Carriles was pardoned four years later, and soon made his way to Miami, where he now lives with his family.

He was jailed in the United States for illegally entering the country, but was freed on parole in May 2007 by a federal judge in Texas.

The judge ruled that the US government had entrapped Posada Carriles by using an interview for citizenship as a way to gather evidence against him.

The US government appealed his release and was currently pursuing charges of perjury, presented against Posada in 2009.

Ironically, one of the women who accused WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange of sexual assault has also been linked to Posada.

-- with AFP