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Man Guilty in Plot to Sell U.S. Secrets to Soviet Bloc

July 21, 1989|From Associated Press

SAVANNAH, Ga. — A former civilian worker for the Army was convicted Thursday of conspiring with a U.S. soldier to sell American military secrets to East German and Soviet agents.

The guilty verdict against Huseyin Yildirim, 61, was returned by a U.S. District Court jury. Judge B. Avant Edenfield said he would sentence Yildirim, who could be given life in prison, within 60 days.

Yildirim, a Turkish-born, naturalized U.S. citizen, was charged with conspiring with Warrant Officer James William Hall III to sell classified information to Soviet Bloc agents between 1983 and 1988, when Hall was stationed in Germany and New Jersey. Yildirim was working as a mechanic at an Army auto shop in Germany at the time.

Seen Damaging to U.S.

Defense experts said the espionage scheme damaged U.S. intelligence efforts in Europe. Hall worked as an analyst of intercepted radio and telephone traffic and coded messages.

The trial was held here because Hall was stationed at nearby Ft. Stewart at the time of his arrest last December. He pleaded guilty at a court-martial in March and was sentenced to 40 years in prison.

In closing arguments Wednesday, defense lawyer Lamar Walter argued that Hall was solely to blame for the espionage.

"The evidence you heard is sufficient to convict him (Hall), but not my man," Walter said. "Mr. Hall is very definitely a guilty man. The man is not capable of being believed."

Walter called no witnesses after Assistant U.S. Atty. Fred Kramer rested the government's case.

Kramer contended the evidence showed overwhelmingly that Yildirim was Hall's contact, that he carried documents to the Soviets and East Germans and that he returned with money.

Before resting his case, Kramer elicited testimony from FBI espionage expert Nicholas J. Walsh that a "Dear Friend" letter found among Yildirim's property in Berlin included a "shopping list . . . a list of things they would like . . . . You would probably be paid the most for it."

Testimony said Yildirim's fingerprint was found on the unsigned letter. FBI agents testified that Yildirim's fingerprints also were on two $50 bills found in Hall's truck.

FBI agents seized the bills, a phony passport and military intelligence documents at Hall's home and from his truck in Richmond Hill, Ga., when he was arrested Dec. 20, evidence showed.

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