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FBI calls new King assassination documents 'a fabrication'

In this story:

March 25, 1998
Web posted at: 11:15 p.m. EST (0415 GMT)

ATLANTA (CNN) -- An FBI spokesman said Wednesday that newly surfaced documents allegedly pertaining to the assassination of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. are "a fabrication."

FBI spokesman Frank Scafaldi told CNN that an examination of the agency's records confirm that Donald Wilson was a probationary agent in the Atlanta field office at the time of the King assassination.

But Scafaldi says he was nowhere near the car of alleged assassin James Earl Ray when it was seized at an Atlanta housing project, impounded and searched.

"Just based on what we know...we can't call it anything but a fabrication," Scafaldi said.

Neither Wilson nor Ray's attorney, William Pepper, could be reached for comment.

At a press conference Tuesday, Wilson and Pepper said documents that Wilson took from Ray's car in 1968 supported the existence of a man known as Raul. Ray claimed he was set up as a "patsy" in the King slaying by Raul.

Former agent calls claim 'outlandish'

James Earl Ray
James Earl Ray  

Wilson showed the documents to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and told the paper that he withheld them because he did not believe the FBI was seriously trying to find King's assassin.

He also produced the documents for Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard, who suggested the matter be referred to U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno.

Carl E. Claiborne, a retired FBI agent who was part of the team that searched Ray's car after it was impounded, said he had never heard of Wilson.

"The guy claims he found evidence and took it home with him. That's outlandish," Claiborne said. "The claim this guy is making is unbelievable."

Claiborne also contested Wilson's assertion that the FBI didn't want to find King's killer. "Don't tell that to me and the other guys who were working 14-hour days that it wasn't serious," he said.

Claiborne said the vehicle search revealed nothing referring to anyone named Raul or, for that matter, anything incriminating. He said the Ford Mustang was stuffed with Ray's personal belongings -- bedding, sheets, clothing and some correspondence with women.


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