HAVANA Philip Agee, a former CIA agent who became an outspoken critic of Washington's Cuba policy, has died in a Havana hospital following ulcer surgery, state media reported Wednesday. He was 72.
Agee quit the CIA in 1969 after 12 years working mostly in Latin America at a time when leftist movements were gaining prominence and sympathizers. His 1975 book "Inside the Company: CIA Diary," cited alleged CIA misdeeds against leftists in the region that included a 22-page list of purported agency operatives.
Granma, Cuba's Communist Party newspaper, said Agee died Monday night and described him as "a loyal friend of Cuba and fervent defender of the peoples' fight for a better world."
Bernie Dwyer, a journalist with state-run Radio Havana, said in a Tuesday message posted to a Cuba e-mail group that Agee's wife called him to say he had died in the hospital, where he has he been since Dec. 15.
"He had several operations for perforated ulcers and didn't survive all the surgery," Dwyer wrote, adding that Agee was cremated Tuesday and that friends planned a memorial ceremony for him Sunday at his Havana apartment.
In 2000, with European investors and a state-run travel agent as his partners, Agee opened a travel Web site designed to bring U.S. tourists to Cuba. The site, cubalinda.com, offers package tours and other help with Cuban tourism that is largely off limits to Americans.
There was no word of Agee's death on the site Wednesday.
The author of several other books besides "Inside the Company," one of Agee's last essays was published in Granma International newspaper in 2003 and came shortly after a Cuban government crackdown led to the arrest of 75 leading dissidents and political activists.
"To think that the dissidents were creating an independent, free civil society is absurd, for they were funded and controlled by a hostile foreign power and to that degree, which was total, they were not free or independent in the least," he wrote.
Agee has also been accused of receiving up to $1 million in payments from the Cuban intelligence service. He denied the accusations, which were first made by a high-ranking Cuban intelligence officer and defector in a 1992 report.
Barbara Bush, the wife of former President George H.W. Bush himself a one-time CIA chief in her autobiography accused Agee's book of exposing a CIA station chief, Richard S. Welch, who was later killed by leftist terrorists in Athens in 1975. Agee, who denied any involvement in the killing, sued her for $4 million for defamation, and she revised the book to settle the case.
Agee's U.S. passport was revoked in 1979. U.S. officials said he had threatened national security. After years of living in Hamburg, Germany occasionally underground, fearing CIA retribution Agee moved to Havana to open the travel site.