ALEXANDRIA, Va. — A former Marine and Air Force communications officer who told federal officials he wanted to be a double agent after meeting with Soviet agents was indicted Wednesday on espionage charges.
Charles Nesbitt, who had top secret clearance, passed secrets to Soviet agents and conspired with them, officials alleged. A statement by U.S. attorneys for northern Virginia and the District of Columbia said he was charged with two counts of espionage.
If convicted, Nesbitt, 44, faces a maximum sentence of life imprisonment and a fine of $500,000. Federal agents arrested him Oct. 14 at a hotel in McLean, Va.
Nesbitt, formerly of Memphis, Tenn., left his family and a computer job last June and traveled to Central and South America, he said in an interview last month with the Washington Post.
The indictment revealed that Nesbitt met with Soviet agents in Bolivia and Peru, where he was given a plane ticket to Moscow. Nesbitt told the newspaper that he did not give the Soviets anything useful during his 11-day stay in their country.
In the interview, Nesbitt said he was given an initial payment of $2,000 and promised between $50,000 and $100,000 depending on his assignments. When he returned from the Soviet Union, he said he was debriefed by the FBI, and offered his services as a spy.