New York Times

September 25, 1980

F.B.I. Agent Says Cuba Officials at U.N. Instructed Weathermen



WASHINGTON, Sept. 24- A Federal Bureau of Investigation agent who followed the activities of the Weather Underground organization in the early 1970's testified today that some members of the militant antiwar group "received instructions" from intelligence officers attached to Cuba's mission to the United Nations.

The agent, James L. Vermeersch was called as a witness for the Federal Government, but much of his testimony appeared to buttress the arguments of the two defendants, W. Mark Felt and Edward S. Miller, who were top officials of the bureau at the time. Mr. Felt and Mr. Miller are being tried in Federal District Court here on a felony charge of conspiring to violate the constitutional rights of citizens by authorizing Federal agents to break into homes without search warrants.

The break-ins were designed to find clues to the location of fugitive members of the Weather Underground, which had taken responsibility for bombings at the Pentagon, the United States Capitol and elsewhere. Defense attorneys have contended that the break-ins were part of a legitimate intelligence-gathering operation.

Mr. Vermeersch, a lawyer who is now the legal adviser in the bureau's St. Louis office, offered the first public disclosure of many of the points contained in a stipulation, or agreement, between the Government and the defendants that was designed to keep national security matters out of the trial. The stipulation was arranged by the trial judge, William B. Bryant, Chief Judge of the Federal Distract Court here.

In response to questions posed by Mark D. Cummings, a lawyer for Mr. Felt, Mr. Vermeersch testified that "Cuban intelligence officers were attached to the Cuban Mission to the United Nations and that at least some of the Weatherman fugitives and support personnel received Instructions from the Cuban mission."

Mr. Vermeersch described the Cuban mission as "a contact point for the Weatherman organization," and he said that the first secretary of the mission in the early 1970's was known to be a Cuban intelligence officer.

Mr. Vermeersch, who said that he had participated in 15 to 20 break-ins without search warrants, asserted that the Weatherman organization had "more contacts abroad" and received more direction from abroad than the Communist Party of the United States.

Mr. Vermeerxh insisted, under questioning by the chief prosecutor, John W. Nields Jr., that the searches conducted by the F.B.I. in the early 1970's without search warrants were legal. But he acknowledged that the evidence could never be introduced in court because, he said, it was "tainted." Mr. Melds said that the evidence was contaminated because the searches were illegal

Mr. Vermeerach said he was aware that one of the leading Weatherman fugitives Bernardine Dohrn, met in Cuba with representatives of the Vietcong in 1968 and 1969 and traveled to Algeria about 1970 to meet with representatives of the Palestine Liberation Organization. At some time in the late 1960's or early 1970's, he sai,. Miss Dohrn lived in San Francisco at the home of a "Chinese Communist agent."