Mystery surrounds arrest of renegade CIA agent in Indonesia

In January of 2008, a man with an American accent appeared at a passport office in the popular West Java tourist resort of Bogor, Indonesia, and applied for an Indonesian passport. But his inability to speak Bahasa Indonesia triggered the suspicion of passport officials, who subsequently discovered that his Indonesian birth certificate was faked.

He was arrested on the spot, but it took nearly a year for Indonesian authorities to ascertain the man’s real identity: he was Bob Marshall, a 61-year-old American-born former Central Intelligence Agency agent who allegedly went renegade on the Agency in 1974.

For the past 35 years, Marshall has reportedly been cited in dozens of countries, operating a worldwide arms smuggling and check-fraud network. There are rumors at Interpol that Marshall has made use of no fewer than 40 passports during this time, some of which he acquired while working for the CIA. Marshall’s arrest is a subject of intense speculation in Indonesia –a longtime hub of CIA activity– but has barely made news in the US.

No one in Washington will say why Marshall entered Indonesia, or why he tried to apply for yet another passport. There are also rumors around Langley that, following his mysterious 1978 escape from a US prison, and despite his renegade status, Marshall has been quite useful to the Agency’s clandestine operations over the years, particularly in secret weapons transfers. But the CIA is so far keeping silent about Marshall, as are the Indonesians.

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