Philip Agee, CIA defector, dead at 72

Philip Agee, a US citizen and former agent of the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), died in Havana, Cuba on Jan. 7 at age 72, according to US news reports. Louis Wolf, a friend and collaborator, said the cause of death was peritonitis. Agee had been living with his wife, Giselle Roberge Agee, in Hamburg, Germany, but the couple maintained an apartment in Havana and visited frequently. Since 2000 Agee had been running Cuba Linda,
an online agency arranging visits to Cuba for US residents. (The website reported that Agee died on Jan. 8.)

Agee worked for the CIA for 12 years, mostly in Ecuador, Uruguay and Mexico, but quit in 1969. His 1975 book, Inside the Company: CIA Diary, focused on what he considered the CIA’s responsibility for killing or destroying the lives of “millions of people all over the world.” In one part, he described a 1965 meeting he had with top police officials in Montevideo. He heard people being tortured in an adjacent room and thought he might have given the government the names of the victims. The book included a 22-page list of alleged agency operatives.

The US State Department refused to renew Agee’s passport in 1987, but the government never attempted to bring him to trial. On Jan. 9, following his death, the Cuban Communist Party newspaper Granma called Agee “a loyal friend of Cuba and fervent defender of the peoples’ fight for a better world.” (AP, Jan. 9; New York Times, Jan. 10)

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, Jan. 13

[Agee’s name was ironically invoked—sometimes with great acrimony—in the Valerie Plame affair.]

See our last post on Cuba.