OverviewPERSERECEspionage Cases2000-04

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2000 - 2004

2004 - RYAN GIBSON ANDERSON, 26, a Specialist and tank crewman in the Washington National Guard, was arrested on February 12, 2004, and charged with five counts of attempting to provide aid and information to the enemy, Al Qaeda. Anderson converted from his Lutheran upbringing to Islam in college while attending Washington State University, where he studied Middle Eastern military history and graduated with a B.A. in 2002. In late 2003, as his National Guard unit was preparing to deploy to the war in Iraq, Anderson went onto Internet chat rooms and sent emails trying to make contact with Al Qaeda cells in the U.S. His emails were noticed by an amateur anti-terrorist Internet monitor, Shannen Rossmiller, a city judge in Montana who had begun monitoring Islamist Jihad websites in an effort to contribute to homeland defense after the 9/11 attacks. After she identified him by tracing his Arab pseudonym, Amir Abdul Rashid, Rossmiller passed along to the FBI her suspicions about Anderson. In a joint DOJ and FBI sting operation conducted in late January 2004, Anderson was videotaped offering to persons he thought were Al Qaeda operatives, sketches of M1A1 and M1A2 tanks, a computer disk with his identifying information and photo, and information about Army weapons systems, including “the exact caliber of round needed to penetrate the windshield and kill the driver of an up-armored Humvee.” At his Army court martial the defense argued that Anderson suffered from various mental conditions including bipolar disorder and a high-performing type of autism, which led to role playing, exaggeration of his abilities, and repeated attempts to gain social acceptance. The prosecution argued that what he did constituted treason. The court-martial convicted Anderson on all five counts and on 3 September, 2004, and sentenced him to life in prison with possibility of parole, demotion to the rank of private, and a dishonorable discharge.

New York Times 13 Feb 2004, “Guardsman Taken Into Custody and Examine or Qaeda Tie”
New York Post 12 Jul 2004, “Lady Who ‘Nets Spies’”
Seattle Times 31 Aug 2004, “Guardsman Anderson Accused of ‘Betrayal’ as Court Martial Begins”
Seattle Post-Intelligencer 2 Sep 2004, “Accused GI Called Bipolar, ‘Social Misfit’”
New York Times 4 Sep 2004, “Guardsman Given Life in Prison for Trying to Help Al Qaeda”


2004 - KENNETH WAYNE FORD, JR., employed as a computer expert by the National Security Agency (NSA) from June 2001 until late 2003, was arrested on 12 January 2004 and accused of taking national security documents without authorization. On the last day of his employment at NSA, Ford packed cardboard boxes with highly classified documents, left through an unguarded exit, and loaded the boxes into his vehicle. Acting on his then-girlfriend’s tip, FBI agents executed a search warrant for Ford’s home in Waldorf, Maryland, and discovered sensitive classified information stashed throughout the house, including Top Secret documents in two boxes in the kitchen. Ford was arrested the same day. Prosecutors did not allege that Ford took the documents to give or sell to a foreign government, and Ford claimed that he stole the documents because he thought they would help him get a new job with Northrop Grumman. However, he did not get the job and a few months later, a federal judge told Ford that if he applied for any other job requiring a security clearance, he must divulge that he had been charged with unlawfully possessing national security documents. Ford did subsequently apply to Lockheed Martin but failed to disclose on the government clearance form the charges pending against him regarding the theft from NSA. Ford was convicted in December 2005 after a two-week trial for unlawful possession of classified information and making a false statement to a US government agency. On 26 March 2006, he was sentenced to six years in prison, followed by three years’ supervised release.

Washingtonpost.com 30 Nov 2005, “Md. Man on Trial Over NSA Documents”
U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of MD Press Blog 30 Mar 2006, “Former Maryland NSA Employee Sentenced for Wrongfully Possessing Classified Information”
FBI Headline Archives (fbi.gov) 31 Mar 2006, “You Can’t Take It With You: Maryland Man Sentenced for Stealing Secret Documents”


2004 - DONALD WILLIS KEYSER, who submitted his resignation from the State Department in July 2004, was arrested 15 September of the same year, charged with trying to conceal a 2003 trip to Taiwan where he met with two Taiwanese intelligence agents. Fluent in Mandarin, Keyser was an expert on China and had worked in the US Foreign Service since 1972. He had had postings in China and Japan and at the time of his resignation was Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State. In that position, he was involved in policy debates that were of concern to Taiwan. Because the US does not have formal relations with Taiwan, American diplomats are not allowed to travel to Taiwan on official business. Yet in August 2003, Keyser traveled to China on business and a few days later flew to Tokyo. From there he flew to Taiwan where he spent three days meeting with a young Taiwanese woman, Isabelle Cheng, at Taiwan’s National Security Bureau. To conceal his Taiwan trip, Keyser claimed three days of leave for time purportedly spent in Tokyo. He was arrested on 15 September 2004. It was reported that Keyser had been removing classified documents from the State Department since 1992, and had 3,600 documents in his home, some of which were highly classified. After the arrest, Cheng agreed to cooperate with the FBI and handed over copies of Keyser’s emails to her that showed he had shared sensitive information with her, Chang, and that indicated he was having an affair with her. In a 13 December 2005 plea-bargain, Keyser pleaded guilty to keeping numerous classified documents in his home and to concealing his relationship with the Taiwanese intelligence agent. He was scheduled to be sentenced 24 February 2006 but sentencing was repeatedly delayed. Finally, on 22 January 2007, Keyser, by then 63, was sentenced to one year in prison, payment of a $25,000 fine, and three years of supervised release for the unlawful removal of classified material from the State Department and for making false statements to the government.

Washington Post 13 Dec 2005, “Guilty Plea in Classified-Document Case”
New York Sun 14 Jul 2006, “A Novel-Like Tale of Cloak, Dagger Unfolds in Court”
Washington Post 6 Aug 2006, “UPDATE: Alleging Lack of Cooperation, Prosecutors Seek to Voice Plea in Classified-Document Case”
US Department of State (www.state.com) 22 Jan 2007, “Ex-Department of State Official Donald Keyser Sentenced in Classified Info Case”


2004 - RONALD N. MONTAPERTO, a former DIA intelligence analyst, in late 2003 admitted to FBI and Navy counterintelligence agents that he had verbally provided Secret and Top Secret information to Chinese intelligence officers over several years (1989 to 2001). Back in 1982 Dr. Montaperto had been one of six DIA analysts selected to participate in a CIA-sponsored pilot program to foster social and professional interactions between DIA’s China experts and the Chinese military. After the program ended, Montaperto continued to maintain those close relationships as part of his official duties but did not always report these meetings to DIA, a violation of security rules. Montaperto began work for the DIA in 1981 as an intelligence analyst and went on in 1992 to become a research professor at the National Defense University. He later was dean of academics at the US Pacific Command’s Asia Pacific Center for Security Studies until early 2004 when he was dismissed. Montaperto was first investigated by the FBI in the late 1980s after a Chinese defector told US intelligence that Beijing had developed a handful of clandestine sources, “dear friends” to China. The FBI suspected Montaperto but later cleared him. Then in early 1991, when the FBI was again interviewing him, he admitted to having verbally provided contacts with information but could not recall the specifics. Nor was the FBI itself able to identify the precise nature of classified information that Montaperto had passed. The case was dropped for lack of evidence. In August 2001 the FBI and Navy, still in pursuit, initiated a “ruse” operation against Montaperto offering him work on a China-related project, but this would involve his taking a CI polygraph. It was during that polygraph that Montaperto made his admissions. In February 2004, FBI agents searched his home and found six 1980s-era classified documents. Montaperto pleaded guilty on 22 June 2006 to one count of unlawful retention of classified national defense information and—as a condition of the plea bargain—admitted to having provided Chinese military attachés considerable amounts of Secret and Top Secret information. Montaperto claimed that passing classified intelligence to China was unintentional and that he was only trying to gain intelligence that could be used in US policymaking. The plea bargain meant that Montaparto was not charged on more serious espionage counts. Instead he was sentenced on 8 September 2006 to three months in prison and three months’ home detention, with five years’ probation. Letters of support from current and former US senior intelligence and military officials persuaded the judge to grant the light sentence.

cicentre.com 6 Jul 2006, “Counterintelligence Case: Dr. Ronald N. Montaperto”
Washington Times 8 Sep 2006, “Leak Cost U.S. Spy Links to Chinese Arms Sales”
Washington Times 23 Feb 2007, “Inside the Ring”


2003 - AHMED FATHY MEHALBA, a naturalized American of Egyptian descent, was arrested on 29 September 2003 at Boston’s Logan International Airport after arriving from Cairo. He had taken emergency leave from his job at Guantanamo Bay with the Titan Corporation to visit his father in Egypt. (Titan is the defense contractor that supplies translators for Army interrogators at Guantanamo.) On his return, in a routine examination by Customs and Border Protection officers, he was found to have 132 computer disks in his baggage, one of which contained hundreds of separate documents labeled “Secret,” or “Secret/Noforn.” He was charged with making false statements to federal agents, since he repeatedly denied that he had any classified information from Guantanamo in his possession. He was indicted in November 2003 on charges of improperly gathering military information and lying to the FBI to which he pleaded not guilty. Born in Alexandria, Egypt, Mehalba immigrated to Salem, Massachusetts, in the early 1990s. He filed for bankruptcy in 1997, owing creditors $27,000. In 2000 he joined the US Army, twice failed to pass an interrogator course at Fort Huachuca, and was discharged for medical reasons (obesity) in 2001. Despite his discharge and bankruptcy, he was able to get a job in 2003 with Titan and was granted a security clearance by the Army. The government could not prove that he had shared classified information with anyone while abroad. In January 2005, Mehalba agreed to plead guilty under an agreement with prosecutors. He was sentenced 18 February 2005 to 20 months in prison. With good behavior and time already served, he was released in 22 days. The light sentence reflected the judge’s opinion that Mehalba was suffering from untreated bipolar disorder and depression when he took the documents. The judge said, “I really do believe the agreed-upon sentence reflects a measured, well-calibrated and in fact humane disposition.” The case illustrates some of the vetting problems involved with hiring native-speaking linguists, so urgently needed in Iraq.

New York Times 30 Sep 2003, “Guantanamo Bay Aide is Arrested at Boston Airport”
Boston Globe 1 Oct 2003, “Guantanamo Translator Seized at Logan”
New York Times 1 Oct 2003, “Guantanamo Inquiry Widens as Civilian Translator is Held”
Boston Globe 8 Jan 2005, “Plea Deal Signals Trouble with Case Against Translator”
Boston Globe 19 Feb 2005, “Translator Sentenced in Guantanamo Documents Case”


2003 - JAMES J. SMITH, an FBI agent, and KATRINA M. LEUNG, a Chinese-American business woman and Los Angeles socialite, were both arrested 9 April 2003 for illegal activities involving US classified information. Smith, 59, was charged with gross negligence in allowing Leung access to classified material, and Leung, 49, with illegally obtaining secret documents that would be an advantage to China. Leung was one of the FBI’s most highly paid assets; she was paid $1.6 million for working as an informant from the early 1980s until 2002. However, it was alleged that for at least 10 years Leung was also spying for the People’s Republic of China (PRC) against the US. Moreover, she had for 20 years been involved in an intimate relationship with Smith, her FBI handler. Smith routinely debriefed Leung and on occasion took classified documents to her home and left them unattended. Leung surreptitiously photocopied some of them; these same copies were later recovered from her home by the FBI. In 1991 Smith learned from the FBI that Leung was suspected of providing classified information to PRC intelligence services without authorization from the FBI, yet he continued to vouch for her and allow her access to classified materials. On her arrest, Leung was not charged by federal prosecutors with espionage (because the government could not prove she passed information to China) but with illegally copying classified documents she took from Smith’s briefcase. In May 2004 Smith plea-bargained, pleading guilty only to lying about the long-time sexual affair. Four additional felony charges were dropped, which spared him from prison, but he was also barred from contact with Leung’s defense lawyers because of concerns over classified information being revealed in open court. In addition, he agreed to cooperate with the government in its investigation of Leung. However, in January 2005 the case against Leung was thrown out on the grounds that she would not be able to get a fair trial without access to Smith. She ultimately pleaded guilty to two minor charges: lying to the FBI and failing to report taxable income. She spent three months in jail and 18 months in home detention, served three years’ probation and 100 hours of community service, and paid a $10,000 fine. At the same time that Leung had her affair with Smith, she was also having a sexual relationship with another FBI agent, then working in San Francisco, William Cleveland Jr. He was not arrested or charged alongside Smith and Leung, but two days after Leung’s arrest in 2003, he resigned his security job at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

Washington Post 13 May 2004, “Ex-Handler of Alleged FBI Spy Cuts Deal”
New York Times 7 Jan 2005, “All Charges are Dismissed in Spy Case Tied to F.B.I.”
Latimes.com 5 Feb 2005, “Judge Urged to Reverse Decision Ending FBI Espionage Case”
Washington Post 25 May 2006, “FBI Officials are Faulted in Chinese Spying Case”


2003 - JOHN JOUNGWOONG YAI, a sandwich shop owner from Santa Monica, California, was arrested 4 February 2003 for failing to register as an agent of North Korea, failing to report bringing more than $10,000 cash into the country, and for making false statements to US Customs inspectors. Yai, 59, who came to the US from Seoul, Korea, in 1975 and became naturalized in 1981, was accused of operating within the US at the direction of North Korean intelligence. Between December 1997 and April 2000, he was paid for his services to the North Korean government that had tasked him to obtain classified information and identify and recruit other agents. Yai was not charged with espionage because the FBI could not prove that he had been successful in collecting and passing along classified information to North Korea. He did not speak English well and did not have a job relating to the government or know anyone who did. Yet he confessed to having received over time some $40,000 from the North Koreans for passing along what amounted to publicly available documents. And he did try to recruit agents in the US. He communicated with North Korean agents through coded faxes and email messages and through meetings overseas; he traveled to North Korea, China, Austria and the Czech Republic to meet North Korean security officials. Yai had been under investigation by FBI Counterintelligence for seven years. The investigation involved surveillance, FISA-authorized secret searches, wiretaps and other high-tech electronic monitoring. On 15 November 2004 Yai was sentenced to two years in prison and was ordered to pay a $20,000 fine. His wife, who accompanied him on some trips, was sentenced to one year probation and a $500 fine.

US Department of Justice Field News Press Release 5 Feb 2003, “Santa Monica Man Arrested for Failing to Register as an Agent of a Foreign Government”
Los Angeles Times 6 Feb 2003, “FBI Watched Spy Suspect for 7 Years”
Telegraph (UK) 16 Feb 2003, “Blunders of the Snack Shop ‘Spy’
San Jose Mercury News 26 Apr 2003, “Spy Case Worries Korean Emigres”


2001 - ROBERT PHILIP HANSSEN, an agent for the FBI for 27 years, was charged on 20 February 2001 with spying for Russia for more than 15 years. He was arrested in a park near his home in Vienna, Virginia, as he dropped off a bag containing seven Secret documents at a covert location. For most of his FBI career Hanssen had worked in counterintelligence, and he made use of what he learned in his own espionage career. He was charged with espionage and conspiracy to commit espionage. Specifically, Hanssen provided first the Soviets and then the Russian government over 6,000 pages of classified documents and the identities of three Russian agents working for the US. Two of these sources were tried in Russia and executed. According to court documents, the FBI employee provided information on “some of the most sensitive and highly compartmented projects in the US intelligence community” as well as details on US nuclear war defenses. In return, the Russians paid him $1.4 million over the period of his espionage activities, including over $600,000 in cash and diamonds and $800,000 deposited in a Russian bank account. Hanssen was identified after the US obtained his file from a covert source in the Russian intelligence service. However, the Russians never knew Hanssen’s true name. To them, he was known only as “Ramon” or “Garcia.” It is believed that Hanssen was involved with the Soviets beginning in 1979, broke off the relationship in 1980, but again volunteered to engage in espionage in 1985 by sending an unsigned letter to a KGB officer in the Soviet Embassy in Washington. The letter included the names of the three Soviet double-agents working in the US. Although Hanssen’s motives are unclear, they seem to have included ego gratification, disgruntlement with his job at the FBI, and a need for money. He and his wife struggled to provide for their large family on an agent’s salary and by 1992 had incurred debts of over $275,000. Hanssen exploited the FBI’s computer systems for classified information to sell and kept tabs on possible investigations of himself by accessing FBI computer files. Friends and coworkers were at a loss to explain how this supposedly deeply religious father of six and ardent anti-Communist could have been leading a double life. A large part of his illegal income is believed to have been used to buy expensive gifts and a car for a local stripper. In July 2001, a plea agreement was reached by which Hanssen would plead guilty to espionage, fully cooperate with investigators, but avoid the death penalty. On 11 May 2002, the former FBI agent was sentenced to life in prison.

New York Times 21 Feb 2001, “F.B.I. Agent Charged as Spy Who Aided Russia for 15 Years”
Washington Post 25 Feb 2001, “’A Question of Why,’ Contradictory Portrait Emerges of Spying Suspect”
Washington Post 6 Jan 2002, “From Russia with Love”
Los Angeles Times 7 May 2002, “U.S. Authorities Question FBI Spy’s Candor”


2001 - ANA BELEN MONTES, a senior intelligence analyst at the Defense Intelligence Agency, transmitted sensitive and classified military and intelligence information to Cuba for at least 16 years before she was arrested on 21 September 2001. Surveillance on her activities was curtailed in response to the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001 and concern that Cuba could pass on intelligence to other nations. Montes was 44, unmarried, and a US citizen of Puerto Rican descent. She was employed by the Justice Department when sometime before 1985 she began working with the Cuban Directorate of Intelligence. It has not been revealed whether she volunteered or was recruited by them. They encouraged her to seek a position with better access to information, and in 1985 she transferred to a job at DIA. From her office at Bolling AFB in Washington, DC, she focused on Latin American military intelligence. In 1992, she shifted from her initial work on Nicaragua and became the senior DIA analyst for Cuba. She passed at least one polygraph test while engaged in espionage. Montes met her Cuban handlers every three or four months either in the US or in Cuba to exchange encrypted disks of information or instructions. The Cubans also kept in contact through encrypted high-frequency radio bursts that she received on a short wave radio. She would enter the sequences of coded numbers coming from the radio into her laptop computer, and then apply a decryption disk to them to read the messages. She used pay phones on Washington street corners to send back encrypted number sequences to pager numbers answered by Cuban officials at the United Nations. By not following their strict instructions on how to remove all traces of the messages from her computer hard disk, Montes left behind evidence of her activities. Over her years of espionage, she gave the Cubans the names of four US military intelligence agents (they escaped harm), details on at least one special access program, defense contingency planning for Cuba, and aerial surveillance photos. She had access to Intelink and the information contributed to that network by 60 agencies and departments of the Federal government. Montes cooperated in debriefings by various intelligence agencies in a plea agreement to reduce her sentence. Her lawyers claimed she spied from sympathy toward Cuba and that she received no money for her espionage other than travel expenses and the cost of her laptop. She was sentenced on 16 October 2002 to 25 years in prison and five years’ probation. At the sentencing hearing she made a defiantly unrepentant statement condemning US policy towards Cuba. The judge responded that she had betrayed her family and her country and told her “If you cannot love your country, you should at least do it no harm.”

Miami Herald 21 Mar 2001, “To Catch a Spy”
Miami Herald 28 Mar 2001, “Cuban Spy Passed Polygraph at Least Once”
New York Times 30 Sep 2001, “Intelligence Analyst Charged with Spying for Cuba”
Miami Herald 16 Jun 2002, “She Led Two Lives—Dutiful Analyst, and Spy for Cuba”
New York Times 17 Oct 2002, “Ex-U.S. Aide Sentenced to 25 Years for Spying for Cuba”


2001 - BRIAN PATRICK REGAN, a former Air Force intelligence analyst, was arrested on 3 August 2001, at Dulles International Airport as he was boarding a flight for Switzerland. On his person he was carrying missile site information on Iraq and contact information for embassies in Switzerland. Regan, who had enlisted in the Air Force at 17, began working for the National Reconnaissance Office in 1995 where he administered the Intelink, a classified web network for the intelligence community. Following his retirement from the military as a Master Sergeant in 2001, he was employed by defense contractor TRW and resumed work at NRO where he was employed at the time of his arrest. Regan had held a Top Secret clearance since 1980. Computers searched in Regan’s home led to the discovery of letters offering to sell secrets to Libya, Iraq, and China. In the Iraq case, he asked Saddam Hussein for $13 million. At his arraignment on November 5, 2001, he pleaded not guilty to three counts of attempting to market highly classified documents and one count of gathering national defense information. The documents, classified at the Top Secret SCI level, concerned the US satellite program, early warning systems, and communications intelligence information. Regan is thought to have been motivated not only by money (he had very heavy personal debts), but also by a sense of disgruntlement, complaining frequently to former coworkers and neighbors about his job and station in life. On 20 February 2003, Regan was convicted of all charges except attempting to sell secrets to Libya, and on 21 March, under a sentencing agreement, he was sentenced to life imprisonment without parole. Information provided by Regan after sentencing led FBI and NRO investigators to 19 sites in rural Virginia and Maryland where he had buried over 20,000 pages of classified documents, five CDs, and five videotapes that he had stashed presumably for future sales.

Washington Post 24 Aug 2001, “Retired Air Force Sgt. Charged with Espionage”
Washington Post 21 Feb 2003, “Analyst Convicted in Spy Case; Regan Jury Yet to Decide if Death Penalty Applies”
New York Times 21 Mar 2003, “Life Sentence for Bid to Sell Secrets to Iraq”
Los Angeles Times 31 Jul 2003, “Arduous Dig to Find Spy’s Buried Stash; Agents Search Virginia, Maryland Park Sites under Rough Conditions, Recover All Documents”


2000 - MARIANO FAGET, a high-ranking Immigration and Naturalization Service official in Miami, Florida, was arrested on 17 February 2000 for providing classified information to the Cuban intelligence service. Faget is a naturalized citizen who had migrated to the US in 1959. At the time of his arrest he held a Secret security clearance and had access to sensitive INS files. He first became a suspect in 1999 when technical and physical surveillance indicated that he was making unauthorized contacts with known Cuban agents. His arrest the following year was based on an FBI sting operation in which Faget was shown (bogus) information that a Cuban diplomat was about to defect. A few minutes later, the INS official was recorded passing this information by phone to a business contact with ties to Cuban intelligence. A member of the Cuban mission, who had been a contact for Faget, was declared persona non grata and expelled. It is not known how much information Faget may have provided the Cuban intelligence service during his years with the INS. Following his arraignment on 3 March 2000, he pleaded not guilty to charges of disclosing classified information, converting it for his own gain, lying to the FBI about contact with a Cuban official, and failing to disclose foreign business ties on his security clearance application. On 30 May 2000, Faget was convicted on all four counts. Prosecutors stated that Faget’s motives were financial gain rather than political. He had expectations of engaging in a lucrative trading business with Cuba once the US embargo is lifted. The former INS official was sentenced on 29 June 2001 to five years in prison including the 16 months in custody at the time of sentencing. His 35 years of otherwise exemplary service to the INS were noted by the judge.

Miami Herald 12 Mar 2000, “Faget: ‘Spy’ Talk Was Only Business”
New York Times 31 May 2000, “I.N.S. Official Is Convicted on Charges of Espionage”
Miami Herald 30 Jun 2001, “INS Official Gets 5 Years in Spy Sting”


2000 - TIMOTHY STEVEN SMITH, 37, was a civilian serving as an ordinary seaman on the USS Kilauea, an ammunition and supply vessel attached to the Pacific Fleet. On 1 April 2000, while the ship was moored at the Bremerton Naval Station in Bremerton, Washington, Smith was surprised by an officer when removing computer disks from a desk drawer. After a scuffle, Smith was subdued and 17 disks were retrieved from his clothing. A search of his quarters found five stolen documents marked Confidential, including one describing the transfer of ammunition and handling of torpedoes on US Navy vessels. Charged initially in US District Court in Tacoma, Washington, with two counts of espionage and two counts of theft and resisting arrest, investigation showed that Smith needed mental treatment and had a severe alcohol problem. He told FBI agents that he “wanted to get back at the crew” for their mistreatment of him and that, in order to get revenge, he had tried to steal “valuable classified materials” because “if I got something valuable, then I could turn my life around.” To sell his cache, he thought he might “go online and solicit buyers from terrorist groups.” Smith pleaded guilty after prosecutors dropped espionage charges. In a plea agreement reached in August 2000, he pled guilty to one count of stealing government property and one count of assaulting an officer. He was sentenced in December 2000 to 260 days’ confinement (to include time served) and was released on 22 December 2000.

Seattle Post-Intelligencer 14 Apr 2000, “Seaman Admits Stealing Defense Secrets, FBI Says”
National Counterintelligence Executive News and Developments, Vol. 1, March 2001


2000 - GEORGE TROFIMOFF, retired US Army Reserve colonel, 73, was arrested on 14 June 2000 in Tampa, Florida, and charged with spying for Russia for 25 years. His arrest concluded a seven-year investigation by the FBI and German authorities. According to the FBI, Trofimoff provided classified information to the Russians while employed in a civilian job in Nuremburg, Germany, from 1959 to 1994, following his military retirement. He allegedly was paid $250,000 for documents provided to KGB, and later, to SVR agents. According the indictment, Trofimoff, who was raised in Germany by Russian émigré parents, was recruited by IGOR SUSEMIHL, a Russian Orthodox priest and Trofimoff’s boyhood friend. Trofimoff enlisted in the US Army in 1948 after his family moved to the US, and he became a US citizen in 1951. He received a commission in the Army Reserve in 1953 and retired with the rank of colonel in 1987. During his military and civilian careers he held Secret or Top Secret security clearances, and in his civilian position, with the Army 66th Military Intelligence Group, he had access to a wide variety of classified materials including US intelligence needs and objectives. In or about 1969, Trofimoff was recruited into the service of the KGB by Susemihl, who at the time served as archbishop of Austria. Susemihl died in 1999. Trofimoff allegedly removed classified documents from the US Army Interrogation Center in Munich, photographed and returned the originals, and then passed the film to Susemihl or KGB agents during several meetings in Austria or southern Germany. It is believed that he turned over more than 50,000 pages of classified documents. Trofimoff and Susemihl had been arrested by German authorities for suspected espionage in 1994, but the case was dropped because the statute of limitations had expired. The investigation, however, was continued by US officials. In late 2000, Trofimoff, who had since retired to Florida, was approached by an FBI agent posing as a Russian officer who offered a “special payment” for additional information. Before his arrest at a Tampa hotel, Trofimoff met with undercover FBI agents several times and was videotaped fully admitting his past involvement in espionage. However, the retired Army employee pleaded not guilty on 26 June, 2001, claiming that he was a loyal American who was just trying to collect some money to cover his debts. Trofimoff, the highest ranking US officer ever accused of spying, was convicted in June for his role in the 25-year espionage conspiracy after a four-week trial. He was sentenced to life imprisonment on 27 September 2001.

Orlando Sentinel 15 Jun 2000, “Viera Retiree is Accused of Espionage”
Stars and Stripes 1 Jul 2000, “Trofimoff Denies He Spied for Soviets”
Washington Post 6 Jun 2001, “Espionage Trial Begins for Retired Army Colonel”
Miami Herald 25 Jun 2001, “Historic Spy Trial in Tampa Nears End”
New York Times 27 Jun 2001, “Retired Army Employee is Found Guilty of Spying”


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