SEATTLE -- Edwin P. Wilson, a former CIA operative who was branded a traitor and convicted of shipping arms to Libya but whose conviction was overturned after he served 22 years in prison, has died. He was 84.
Wilson died Sept. 10 in Seattle from complications from a heart valve replacement surgery, said Craig Emmick, a director at Columbia Funeral Home in Seattle.
Wilson who set up front companies abroad for the CIA and posed as a rich American businessman was convicted in 1983 for shipping 20 tons of C-4 plastic explosives to Libya. At trial, he said he did it to ingratiate himself with the Libyan government at the CIA's request.
A federal judge threw out that conviction in 2003, saying the government failed to correct information about Wilson's service to the CIA that it admitted internally was false.
Wilson had been sentenced to 52 years in prison for selling arms and explosives to Libya in the late 1970s and early 1980s, and for other crimes.
He served 22 years in prison, mostly in solitary confinement, until he was released in 2004. He then moved to Edmonds, Wash., north of Seattle, to live with his brother.
"Our family always supported him and believed in him," his nephew, Scott Wilson, said Saturday, adding that biggest part of his uncle's vindication was "that the label of being a traitor would be taken off."
"He never considered himself a traitor of course," Wilson added.
While in prison, Wilson sought to prove his innocence by using the Freedom of Information Act to request government documents.
Even after he was released, the man once described as a "death merchant" and "terrorist" worked to clear his name.