Skip to main content

Reagan national security adviser under suspicion for representing Sudan

By Terry Frieden, CNN Justice Producer
updated 9:57 PM EDT, Thu March 21, 2013
Former Reagan administration national security adviser Robert McFarlane is suspected of having illegally represented the government of Sudan.
Former Reagan administration national security adviser Robert McFarlane is suspected of having illegally represented the government of Sudan.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: McFarlane "surely violated no laws," his attorney says
  • FBI agents search apartment of Robert McFarlane, who was NSA from 1983 to 1985
  • Sudan has been under strict sanctions and a trade embargo for nearly 20 years
  • McFarlane has not been charged and is cooperating, U.S. attorney spokesman says

Washington (CNN) -- A former Reagan administration national security adviser is suspected of having illegally represented the government of Sudan, which has been under strict U.S. government sanctions and a trade embargo for nearly 20 years for supporting terrorism and violating human rights.

FBI agents searched the Watergate apartment in Washington where Robert McFarlane resides seeking evidence of his alleged connection with Sudan. Court documents show agents seized handwritten notes, computer equipment and White House documents classified up to the level of Top Secret.

McFarlane, who served as President Ronald Reagan's national security adviser from 1983 to 1985, has not been charged with any crime, and the U.S. attorney in Alexandria says McFarlane is working with authorities on the case.

"Mr. McFarlane is cooperating with this ongoing investigation and through his counsel has asserted his innocence," said the prosecutor's spokesman Peter Carr.

McFarlane's attorney, Barry Levine, said his client "is a patriot. He is a humanitarian. He cares mightily about Darfur. And he surely violated no laws."

The story was first reported in The Washington Post.

The detailed FBI affidavit in support of the search reviewed the history of McFarlane's alleged relationship with Sudanese officials. The investigation is more than two years old, and discloses that agents went through trash at a location in Virginia looking for clues to McFarlane's relationship with Sudanese officials.

The FBI said they had found a series of e-mails to McFarlane which agents believed to be from someone in the Sudanese intelligence service. After reviewing 2009 e-mails FBI agent Grayden Ridd said in his court document, "I believe these e-mails are evidence that McFarlane was entering into an agreement with the Government of Sudan to lobby the U.S. government officials on behalf of Sudan and to provide it with advice during negotiations with the United States."

The agent further said it appeared McFarlane and his Sudanese contact intended to structure the deal so it would appear McFarlane was representing Qatar, a U.S. ally.

McFarlane's Sudanese contact, according to the FBI, was a diplomat named Mohammed Hassen Babiker, whom the FBI said it learned was an intelligence operative for Sudan.

Babiker, the FBI says, told McFarlane the three things he was interested in discussing with the U.S. government were peace in the war-torn Darfur region of western Sudan, existing U.S. sanctions against Sudan and its inclusion on the terror list, and the role of the United States in fostering peace and unity in Sudan.

Prosecutors had no information on any legal proceedings in the case, but acknowledged they would take place in the Eastern District of Virginia.

CNN's Carol Cratty contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 9:54 PM EST, Tue December 23, 2014
A decade on from devastating 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, the Red Cross' Matthias Schmale says that the lessons learned have made us safer.
updated 7:24 PM EST, Tue December 23, 2014
As soon as word broke that "The Interview" will hit some theaters, celebrations erupted across social media -- including from the stars of the film.
updated 1:44 PM EST, Tue December 23, 2014
Did a rogue hacker -- or the U.S. government -- cut the cord for the regime's Internet?
updated 8:06 PM EST, Tue December 23, 2014
Monaco's newborn royals, Princess Gabriella and Crown Prince Jacques Honore Rainier, posed for their first official photos with their parents.
updated 12:06 PM EST, Tue December 23, 2014
Tim Berners-Lee, the man credited with inventing the world wide web, gives a speech on April 18, 2012 in Lyon, central France, during the World Wide Web 2012 international conference on April 18, 2012 in Lyon.
What's next for the Internet? Acclaimed scientist Sir Tim Berners-Lee shares his insights.
updated 3:22 AM EST, Tue December 23, 2014
The United States and North Korea have long been locked in a bitter cycle of escalating and deescalating tensions. But the current cyber conflict may be especially hard to predict.
updated 4:00 PM EST, Mon December 22, 2014
A chilling video shows Boko Haram executing dozens of non-Muslims.
updated 6:34 AM EST, Mon December 22, 2014
New planes, new flight tests ... but will we get cheaper airfares?
updated 12:46 PM EST, Sun December 21, 2014
The killing of two cops could not have happened at a worse time for a city embroiled in a public battle over police-community relations, Errol Louis says.
updated 9:51 PM EST, Sun December 21, 2014
The gateway to Japan's capital, Tokyo Station, is celebrating its centennial this month -- and it has never looked better.
updated 11:21 AM EST, Sat December 20, 2014
Unicef has warned that more than 1.7 million children in conflict-torn areas of eastern Ukraine face an "extremely serious" situation.
updated 12:01 PM EST, Mon December 22, 2014
Each day, CNN brings you an image capturing a moment to remember, defining the present in our changing world.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT