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Dr. Linked to S. Africa Bioweapons

by the Associated Press, New York Times, 2 November 2002


JOHANNESBURG, South Africa (AP) -- A California doctor who committed suicide after being accused in a murder plot gave deadly germs to apartheid South Africa's secret chemical and biological weapons program, CBS' "60 Minutes" reported Sunday.

Larry C. Ford met with scientists from South Africa's Project Coast in the 1980s to discuss chemical and biological warfare, Wouter Basson, who headed the project, told the program.

He also passed a bag filled with cholera, typhoid, botulism, anthrax and bubonic plague to a South African military doctor during a meeting at the house of the South African trade attache in California, former FBI informant Peter Fitzpatrick told "60 Minutes."

Project Coast, which has been accused of trying to create deadly bacteria that would only affect blacks, poisoning opponents' clothing and stockpiling cholera, HIV and anthrax, opened an offshore bank account to pay Ford, "60 Minutes" reported.

Ford, 49, committed suicide March 2, 2000, just days after a botched assassination attempt on his business partner at Biofem Inc., of Irvine, Calif. The company did not immediately return a telephone message from The Associated Press on Saturday.

Suspecting Ford was behind the shooting, investigators dug up his yard and found a cache of military-grade weapons and explosives, according to court documents in California. In his refrigerator, investigators found jars of germs that cause typhoid and cholera.

"60 Minutes" reported that sources said an anti-balding agent Ford had been working on was actually a poison and the company called Delta G his pharmaceutical company was doing business with was actually a front for Basson's Project Coast.

South African prosecutor Torie Pretorius told "60 Minutes" Ford had visited scientists at a secret military installation outside Pretoria and given them a lecture on germ warfare, including how to lace pornographic magazines with germs and plant them in rebel army barracks.

Basson, acquitted in April of 46 counts of murder, fraud and drug dealing in connection with Project Coast, said the project had only paid Ford for AIDS research, though "60 Minutes" said it had a document saying Ford was paid for the "acquisition of relevant chemical and biological weapons literature."

South African prosecutors, including Pretorius, declined to comment on the television program and Basson did not return a telephone message.

"60 Minutes" also reported that the U.S. government was concerned that Basson might be trying to sell his knowledge of biological and chemical weapons during several trips he made to Libya in the 1990s. U.S. intelligence documents also accused him of trying to reach out to Iran and Iraq, the program reported.

Copyright © 2002 New York Times
Reprinted for Fair Use Only.

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