CIA Director William J. Casey told an associate of international arms dealers in January, 1985--seven months before the first known White House-sanctioned arms shipments--that the United States was supplying arms to Iran, according to documents filed Monday in a New York federal court.
Roy M. Furmark, a long-time friend of Casey, passed along the inside information when trying to negotiate a joint venture partnership between arms merchants Adnan Khashoggi and Cyrus Hashemi, according to legal briefs filed on behalf of Samuel Evans, an attorney for both Khashoggi and Furmark.
"At that time (January, 1985), Furmark informed Evans that Furmark's old friend William Casey . . . had told him that the United States had supplied and permitted the supply of arms to Iran," attorneys for Evans said in the briefs.
Statements in Conflict
The Evans briefs appear to contradict accounts of Casey's secret testimony last month before Congress. Casey reportedly told congressional investigators that the CIA had helped arrange arms shipments to Iran only in 1986 and only at the request of the White House National Security Council. There has been no confirmation that the intelligence agency may have been involved in prior covert shipments.
However, according to Evans, Furmark told him about U.S.-approved arms deals during a January, 1985, meeting in London. By the next spring, Furmark had helped create World Trade Group, a joint venture controlled by Khashoggi and Hashemi to trade farm equipment, oil and military weapons with Iran. Furmark received a 10% interest in the venture for his role as a middleman.
Furmark, a New York energy consultant, could not be reached Monday evening for comment. Casey is recovering from brain cancer surgery.
World Trade Group never completed any transactions. After joining Hashemi in a July, 1985, meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres, Khashoggi withdrew from the partnership to pursue the arms deals independently. Thereafter, Khashoggi dealt directly with Iranian middleman Manucher Ghorbanifar, to whom he was introduced by Furmark.
And Hashemi, cut out of the deal, became a government informant in a U.S. Customs Service "sting" operation that led to the arrests of Evans and nine others, including a retired Israeli general, on federal charges of conspiring to smuggle arms.
Attorneys for Evans, who is awaiting trial in New York on the charges, filed the briefs Monday in seeking access to a broad range of federal documents relating to covert government arms sales to Iran. Among records they want divulged is the special "finding" signed by President Reagan on Jan. 17, 1986, that suspended laws against arms trades with Iran. Evans and the others are accused of conspiring to violate those laws.