McKevitt trial continues at Special Criminal Court

FBI agent David Rupert told the Special Criminal Court today that he developed the character of a smuggler and drug dealer to help him infiltrate dissident republican groups.

FBI agent David Rupert told the Special Criminal Court today that he developed the character of a smuggler and drug dealer to help him infiltrate dissident republican groups.

Mr Rupert said that he began developing the character in association with the FBI in 1995 and if republican groups checked him out they would have come across ``street evidence'' to back it up.

Mr Rupert said he developed a persona who ``apparently knew the criminal underworld''. He said that he had developed the character with the FBI and the British Security Service.

"If you went to check in Massena you would find by asking around that I was a smuggler, drug dealer, whatever,'' he said. "That wasn't so but it was used for developing the cover.''

Mr Rupert said that he had owned a trucking business in upstate New York and 95% of his business was across the Canadian border so there was an assumption that he was a smuggler.

"I knew what rumour mills generated over a period of time. It was a relatively safe bet that they would run across that rumour,'' he added.

Mr Rupert said it was "tough work'' developing the character of a criminal and he added: "It's a tough road to go. If you make a mistake there isn't many human rights involved. They take you out back and shoot you. I knew that. The difficulty was trying to make it work.''

It was the fifteenth day of the trial of Michael Mc Kevitt, (53) , of Beech Park, Blackrock, Dundalk, Co Louth who denies membership of an unlawful organisation styling itself the Irish Republican Army, otherwise the IRA, otherwise Oglaigh na hEireann between August 29, 1999 and March 28, 2001. He also denies directing the activities of the same organisation.

Mr Rupert, (51), a former trucking company boss and bar owner , has told the court that he infiltrated dissident republican groups for the FBI and the British Security Service(MI5).

The court has heard that Mr Rupert was paid $1.25m (€1.1m) for his work. Mr Rupert has claimed that Mc Kevitt told him he wanted to set up a new dissident republican terrorist group that would carry out attacks in Britain and that he was seeking outside help, including from Saddam Hussein's Iraq, for the group.

The trial is continuing.

More in this section