The documents unearthed by Mr. Wilson did not explicitly show that the CIA had ordered up the Libyan arms deal. But they did show, the court found, that the CIA had continued to engage in significant contact with Mr. Wilson after he left the agency in 1971.
“In the course of American justice,” the judge wrote, “one would have to work hard to conceive of a more fundamentally unfair process.”
The CIA continued to deny any involvement in the Libyan arms sale. “That decision was his,” the agency said in a statement the day the opinion was issued, “and that is why he went to jail.”
David Corn, the author of a biography of the prominent CIA officer Theodore G. Shackley, found irony in the episode. “They framed a guilty man,” Corn told The Washington Post in 2004. “I think he’s a terrible fellow who got what he deserved, but they did frame him.”
Edwin Paul Wilson was born May 3, 1928, on a farm in Nampa, Idaho.
He worked as a merchant seaman before attending the University of Portland, where he received a bachelor’s degree in psychology in 1953. He served in the Marine Corps and joined the CIA the day after his discharge in 1955. Early assignments included spying on European labor unions, The Post reported.
After his release from prison, he moved to Edmonds, Wash., to be near a brother. Having declared bankruptcy, Mr. Wilson reportedly lived largely off Social Security and a CIA pension.
Survivors, according to a death notice on the funeral home’s Web site, include his longtime girlfriend, Cate Callahan; two sons, Karl Wilson and Erik Wilson; and a sister.
“Deep down here,” Mr. Wilson told The Post in 2004, pointing to his heart, “I knew I wasn’t guilty. . . . That helped. If I had gone out and killed somebody, I’d feel guilty, I guess. But I don’t feel guilty over this.”