A Washington lawyer appearing as a witness for convicted arms dealer Edwin P. Wilson testified yesterday that he met twice with a Cuban exile in 1980 and was told that allegations of a murder plot implicating Wilson were false.
Testimony by the lawyer, Kenneth E. Conklin, the only defense witness in Wilson's trial in U.S. District Court here on two murder conspiracy counts, was at odds with prosecutors' allegations that Wilson plotted in 1976 to murder a Libyan dissident living in Egypt.
Wilson, a former CIA agent, has been sentenced to 32 years in prison for allegedly supplying arms, explosives and terrorist training to Libya.
The Cuban exile, Raphael Quintero of Miami, is the government's key witness in its claims that Wilson and a fugitive codefendant, Francis E. Terpil, offered $1 million to Quintero and two others to murder Umar Abdullah Muhayshi, a critic of Libyan ruler Muammar Qaddafi.
Quintero has testified this week that he met with Wilson and Terpil in Northern Virginia and later in Switzerland in 1976 to plan the alleged assassination attempt. Quintero repeatedly denied meeting with Conklin, except to discuss a proposed land deal in Mexico in which Wilson was an investor.
Conklin testified, however, that in a meeting on July 11, 1980, at a Rosslyn hotel with Quintero and a former CIA official, Thomas Clines, Quintero had said it was Terpil, not Wilson, who pushed the murder plot.
Conklin testified, however, that in a meeting on July 11, 1980, at a Rosslyn hotel with Quintero and a former CIA official, Thomas Clines, Quintero said he had told federal prosecutors that there was no plot.
"Did Quintero tell you that he told federal prosecutors the events were not an assassination attempt?" Wilson defense lawyer Patrick Wall asked Conklin.
"Yes, he did," Conklin replied.
At a second meeting, on Aug. 4, 1980, Conklin testified, Quintero told him he had refused to sign an affidavit prepared by prosecutors because it contained a reference to the alleged murder plot. Quintero yesterday denied making that statement.
Quintero also testified he was working with U.S. naval intelligence at the time of the alleged plot, a post he said he was recruited for by Wilson. Wilson, who left the CIA in 1971 after a 15-year career, was employed by a secret naval intelligence task force until early 1976, according to earlier testimony.
Under cross examination by Assistant U.S. Attorney E. Lawrence Barcella Jr., Conklin acknowledged he made three trips to Malta in mid-1980 to meet with Wilson following Wilson's indictment in Washington in connection with Libyan dealings.
Conklin denied suggestions by Barcella that he had agreed to help Wilson obtain a false U.S. passport. Roberta Barnes, a former Wilson employe who said she was an eyewitness to the Malta meetings, testified, however, that Conklin had offered to obtain the passport for a fee of $25,000.