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Ex-CIA operative Edwin Wilson dies

SEATTLE -- Edwin P. Wilson, a former CIA operative who was branded a traitor and convicted of shipping arms to Libya but whose conviction was overturned after he served 22 years in prison, has died. He was 84.

Wilson died Sept. 10 in Seattle from complications from a heart valve replacement surgery, said Craig Emmick, a director at Columbia Funeral Home in Seattle.

Wilson, who set up front companies abroad for the CIA and posed as a rich American businessman, was convicted in 1983 for shipping 20 tons of C-4 plastic explosives to Libya. At trial, he said he did it to ingratiate himself with the Libyan government at the CIA's request.

A federal judge threw out that conviction in 2003, saying the government failed to correct information about Wilson's service to the CIA that it admitted internally was false. Wilson served 22 years in prison, mostly in solitary confinement, until he was released in 2004. He moved to Edmonds, Wash., north of Seattle, to live with his brother.

Wilson was born May 3, 1928, to a farming family in Nampa, Idaho. He went to work for the CIA in 1955 after being discharged from the Marines. After leaving the CIA in 1971, he made millions in the arms trade.

In 1982, he was lured out of Libya and brought to New York for arrest. A federal court in Virginia convicted him of exporting firearms to Libya. He was convicted in Texas in 1983, receiving a 17-year sentence for similar crimes. A New York court sentenced him to 25 years on charges involving claims he conspired to have witnesses and prosecutors killed.

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