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Defector says he's made several trips to West

Edward Lee Howard, the first CIA agent ever to defect to the Soviet Union, said Sunday that he has secretly visited the West using fake passports "five to seven times" since fleeing the United States more than four years ago. Howard claimed that he has dodged Western intelligence services and customs officials while traveling in France, Canada and Mexico. He also said he has traveled in Nicaragua, Cuba and Eastern Europe.

"I don't think any secret service can deal with multiple names, multiple passports," Howard said.

Asked why he traveled so extensively despite the risk of capture by the CIA or FBI, Howard said, "For fun." He said his KGB "helpers" in Moscow objected, but, he said, "it's my butt."

Howard, 38, denied he was now a Soviet agent, saying his only relation with the KGB is that "they provide for my security."

Howard's claims about traveling in the West could not be independently confirmed. Interviews with the Washington Post were arranged through the KGB's press office, raising the possibility that his allegations were designed to embarrass the CIA.

Howard said that while "I love my country _ America," he is "waging war with the CIA."

Howard said his wife, Mary, and their 7-year-old son, Lee, visit him in Moscow in the summer and at Christmas, but they live with Mrs. Howard's parents in Minnesota.