Rupert testifies at McKevitt trial

Triple agent David Rupert has taken the stand in the Special Criminal Court amid unprecedented levels of security to testify against the alleged leader of the Real IRA, Micheal McKevitt.

Triple agent David Rupert has taken the stand in the Special Criminal Court amid unprecedented levels of security to testify against the alleged leader of the Real IRA, Micheal McKevitt.

Rupert (aged 51) who worked for the FBI, MI5 and also reported to the gardai took the stand at noon today.

He told the court that he was born in New York and worked in the logging business and as an insurance agent until he began his own trucking business after he got a licence in Florida.

Asked if he was now married, he told the court, "it's my fourth marriage". He also said his formal schooling ended when he was 16.

Speaking in an American drawl, grey-haired Rupert appeared in court wearing glasses, a grey suit, a blue shirt and a red tie. He is sitting just feet away from the accused, Michael McKevitt.

He continues to be questioned by prosecution counsel Mr George Birmingham SC.

Earlier, lawyers for McKevitt informed the court that they had made an application for discovery to the Court of Illinois seeking documents relating to a proposed book by Mr Rupert and two US journalists.

Mr Hugh Hartnett SC for the defence asked the court if it would indicate to the Court of Illinois that it would be desirable for this to happen. The defence also sought to have three categories of garda witnesses, including those who took statements from David Rupert, excluded from the court during

the trial.

Presiding judge, Mr Justice Richard Johnson said the court proposes to make no comment on proceedings in any other jurisdiction. The court also said it was prepared to make an order excluding the second category of witnesses after Mr Rupert was sworn in.

On the third category the court said it saw no reason why they should be excluded during the evidence of Mr Rupert.

It is the third day of the trial of Michael McKevitt (aged 53), of Beech Park, Blackrock, Co Louth who pleaded not guilty to two charges - membership of an unlawful organisation styling itself the Irish Republican Army, otherwise Oglaigh na hEireann, otherwise the IRA between August 29, 1999 and March 28, 2001 and to directing the activities of the same organisation between March 29, 1999 and October 23, 2000.

The court has heard that McKevitt was arrested by gardai at his home after gardai had examined a 40 page statement from Mr Rupert and emails from him concerning the activities of McKevitt.

The prosecution has claimed that David Rupert, a US citizen who worked for the FBI and the British Security Service and was paid €1.25m (€1.1m) to infiltrate dissident republican organisations, will give evidence of having met Mc Kevitt on over 20 occasions.

Mr Rupert will give evidence that McKevitt spoke of the activities of the Real IRA and his role as a former Quartermaster for the Provisional IRA.

He will also give evidence that McKevitt gave him a `shopping list' to acquire material in the United States for use in a terrorist campaign.

McKevitt also allegedly told Mr Rupert that he wanted his campaign to "exact a huge financial toll" in London and that his preferred targets were "hits" outside Ireland. He also allegedly spoke about "cyber terrorism" and a possible feud with the Provisional IRA.

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