NEW YORK — The Soviet KGB secret police made a vain attempt two years ago to incriminate the same American journalist its agents arrested over the weekend on espionage charges, a Soviet emigre said Sunday.
Alexander Goldfarb, a Columbia University professor, said that his father, David, was asked by the KGB in April, 1984, to induce U.S. News & World Report correspondent Nicholas Daniloff to smuggle a package of written material out of the Soviet Union.
The elder Goldfarb, a retired professor of genetic engineering, refused, and his visa to leave the Soviet Union was canceled, according to his son, who came to this country 11 years ago.
Soviet authorities announced Sunday that Daniloff is being held for investigation of espionage after accepting a package on Saturday from a Soviet source that allegedly contained maps marked "top secret." Daniloff denied any espionage activity.
In a telephone interview Sunday, Goldfarb said that after Daniloff arrived in Moscow in 1981, the newsman and the elder Goldfarb became friends, meeting occasionally for dinner. The younger Goldfarb said he had met the journalist before Daniloff went to Moscow and that he asked him to say hello to his father.
He said that in 1984, a few days before his father was to pick up his visa to leave the Soviet Union, he was called in by the KGB and shown photographs of Daniloff coming and going from the Goldfarb apartment.
The KGB wanted him to ask Daniloff to help him get information out of the country, the younger Goldfarb said. The KGB said it would provide his father with a package he was to pass along to Daniloff as his own, he said.
Goldfarb refused to cooperate with the KGB because "he didn't want to play that game," his son said.