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Charlie Wilson, US champion of Afghans against Soviets dies

February 11, 2010

Charlie Wilson, a former US lawmaker who championed covert CIA support for Afghan fighters battling Soviet troops in the 1980s, died of a heart attack Wednesday at the age of 76, the hospital said. 

Wilson, sometimes dubbed "Goodtime Charlie" because of his hard-partying ways, succumbed to a heart attack at 12:16 pm (1816 GMT), said Memorial Health System of East Texas spokeswoman Yana Ogletree.

The Texas Democrat, who sat on a key House subcommittee, spearheaded vast funding increases for CIA efforts to help Afghan mujahedeen fighting Soviet occupation forces after the 1979 invasion.

A movie adaptation of a book chronicling his efforts starred Hollywood superstar Tom Hanks as Wilson and Julia Roberts as the Houston socialite Joanne Herring who helped him win support for the ambitious secret war.

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