The CIA and Army gave Manuel Noriega more than $320,000 in money and gifts from 1955 to 1986, lawyers prosecuting the ousted Panamanian leader on drug charges say. But Noriega's attorneys claim he got much more.
According to documents filed by prosecutors Friday in U.S. District Court, the Central Intelligence Agency gave Noriega $160,058 between 1971 and 1986.In addition, the prosecutors said, the Army gave Noriega $162,108, including $50,000 for a sound projection system, between 1955 and 1986.
Prosecutors said they were releasing the information to counter statements by Noriega's attorneys that the CIA paid him "millions of dollars."
Defense attorney Frank Rubino said he had not yet looked at the documents, but quipped: "If it adds up to $11 million then it's correct."
Another defense attorney, Jon May, said the figures were too low.
"The prosecutors really think this is right, but they just haven't talked to the right people," said May. "I think that the evidence to come out at trial will establish a much larger figure than the government is revealing."
He refused to comment on reports that Noriega also received U.S. money given to the Panamanian military, saying he was bound by federal law governing classified information.
The papers were made public just before Friday's hearing on a dismissal motion by Noriega's defense team.
U.S. District Judge William Hoeveler said he would issue a ruling on the motion Jan. 28.
The documents, signed by lead prosecutor Michael P. Sullivan, said the CIA funding "generally was in the form of monthly payments, variously described as a stipend, subsidy or salary."
The government did not say why the money was paid to Noriega, who has been described in the past as a CIA informant who would tip the U.S. government on a wide range of Central American security and law enforcement matters.
Noriega is being held at the Metropolitan Correctional Center outside Miami on charges that he accepted $4.6 million in bribes to provide a safe haven to Colombian drug smugglers. He surrendered to U.S. soldiers who invaded Panama in December 1989.