Rupert 'monitored papers for the FBI', court hears

FBI agent David Rupert told the Special Criminal Court today that he used to fax a daily digest of news reports from Irish newspapers and republican websites to his FBI handler.

FBI agent David Rupert told the Special Criminal Court today that he used to fax a daily digest of news reports from Irish newspapers and republican websites to his FBI handler.

Mr Rupert agreed that the name of Michael Mc Kevitt, who is on trial for directing the activities of the Real IRA, was very much in the newspapers in 1998 and 1999.

He told Mc Kevitt's counsel Mr Hugh Hartnett SC that he used to be a "casual reader" of newspapers until he became a co-operating witness in late December 2000 when he became "an avid reader".

"I had lots of time on my hands," he said.

Mr Rupert said that he used to regularly read Saoirse, the paper of Republican Sinn Fein and the 32 Sovereignty Committee paper whenever it came out.

Mr Hartnett put it to Mr Rupert that a British Security Service report mentioned that Mr Rupert used to fax a daily digest each morning of reports from the Belfast Telegraph, the Irish Times, the Irish Republican Information Service to the FBI.

Mr Rupert replied that there had been one period when he would send a fax to FBI agent Ed Buckley who was his handler.

He said that he had set up a website for the Friends of Irish Freedom and for the 32 County Sovereignty Committee.

"At Buckley's request I would look at the highlights of the news on the computer and fax it to him," he said.

"I believe it only went on for a period of two or three months," he added.

Mr Rupert told Mr Hartnett that he could not recall ever reading any books on Northern Ireland or republican matters and said that he had a visual problem which meant that unless books were on tape he could not read them.

He also denied ever giving Bernadette Sands Mc Kevitt, the accused's wife, a book about the SAS and said he had never heard of the book.

It was the nineteenth day of the trial of Michael Mc Kevitt (aged 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 (aged 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 (€1.12m) 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, fror the group.

The trial is continuing.

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