NEW YORK — A federal judge in a major arms-smuggling conspiracy case said Thursday that he plans to order the federal government to disclose the contents of any communications between White House officials and international arms merchants involved in the Iran arms affair.
Over the objections of Justice Department lawyers, U.S. District Judge Leonard Sand said that he intends to grant defense attorneys access to government documents related to covert transactions with such arms dealers as Adnan Khashoggi, Manucher Ghorbanifar and Cyrus Hashemi. The judge deferred a formal discovery order until next week and pushed the scheduled February trial date back to May 18.
The records are sought by attorneys for Samuel Evans, a London-based American lawyer who represented both Khashoggi and Hashemi in various arms ventures. Evans was arrested along with retired Israeli Brig. Gen. Avraham Bar-Am and eight others last spring on charges of conspiring to illegally ship arms to Iran in a deal apparently unrelated to the White House-run operation.
Expected U.S. Sanction
Evans and his co-defendants have contended that they believed the $2.5-billion arms deal they were negotiating ultimately would have been sanctioned by the White House. That defense was dismissed as "fantasy" and "wishful thinking" by prosecutors prior to the disclosure that President Reagan had approved similar arms shipments in 1985 and 1986.
Sand said evidence of White House dealings with Khashoggi--a middleman in the officially sanctioned transactions--was potentially significant to the Evans defense.
Sand's order is expected to require disclosure of information that passed among the arms dealers and former National Security Advisers Robert C. McFarlane and John M. Poindexter, Lt. Col. Oliver L. North, and CIA Director William J. Casey, among others.
Friend of Casey
Also expected to be reviewed will be communications between those government officials and Roy M. Furmark, Bernard Veillot and John DeLarocque. Furmark, a New York oil consultant, is a friend and some-time business associate of Khashoggi and Casey. He reportedly was the first to tell Casey that money from the sale of weapons to Iran was being diverted to the Nicaraguan \o7 contras.\f7
Veillot and DeLarocque are French businessmen indicted along with Evans and Bar-Am. They claimed to be seeking official sanction for arms deals with Iran from U.S. government sources, according to conversations with the other accused arms conspirators that were secretly taped by undercover U.S. Customs agents.