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Alabama mercenary meets with investigators today

By NEIL ROLAND

WASHINGTON -- A lawyer for Tom Posey, the conservative Alabama activist accused of shipping arms to the Nicaraguan rebels with the help of a White House liaison, said his client would rebut the allegations in a meeting today with the Senate staff investigating the Iran-Contra scandal.

Posey acknowledges working with the liaison, Robert Owen, but denies any involvement in weapons shipments to the Contras at a time when U.S. military aid to them was illegal, according to his attorney Douglas Jones.

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Posey has maintained in interviews that his organization, Civilian Military Assistance of Decatur, Ala., included no weapons in shipping tons of boots, medicine and clothing to the Contras since the ban on military aid was imposed in 1984. The ban was lifted last year just before the Iran-Contra case broke.

Jones said Wednesday that Posey kept in his house caches of weapons sent by private contributors but did not forward them to the Contras because he 'knew it was against the law.' Jones said his client would dispute the allegations against him in talking to the Senate investigators today.

Owen, a former Republican Senate aide, was a State Department consultant who served as liaison for the Contras and Lt. Col. Oliver North of the National Security Council in 1985 and 1986 -- during the time North apparently diverted profits to the rebels from covert U.S. arms sales to Iran.

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The FBI has been investigating allegations that Posey worked with Owen in illegally shipping arms to the rebels, said a Justice Department official who requested anonymity.

The official said more than 10 witnesses have told the FBI that Posey and Owen took part in meetings in Miami in early 1985 at which plans were made to ship weapons from Florida to rebels based in Costa Rica.

Two American mercenaries, Jack Terrell and Joe Adams, also have accused Posey of recruiting Americans to help the Contras fight Nicaragua's leftist Sandinista government while helping plan and organize raids into Nicaragua.

Jones said Posey denies both allegations and only recruited Americans to work in Central America on his organization's efforts to supply non-military goods to the rebels.

Owen's lawyer did not return a telephone call on the eve of today's meeting.

The Neutrality Act bars American citizens from assisting combat operations against governments, such as Nicaragua's, with which the United States is not officially at war.

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