WASHINGTON — Jurors tried to deliver a partial verdict Wednesday in the Iran-Contra case of former CIA spy chief Clair E. George but they were told to complete deliberations before announcing a decision.
The jury did not indicate how many of the seven counts it had decided in the case against George, who is accused of lying about the Iran-Contra affair.
U.S. District Judge Royce C. Lamberth said that accepting a partial verdict would generate news coverage that might influence the jury's deliberations.
"In light of the media interest in the case, because the jury is not sequestered, it would be better if you simply held onto your verdict," Lamberth told the jury of eight women and four men.
Jurors have been allowed to go home each night rather than be kept in a hotel, where guards would control their access to newspapers and news broadcasts.
The panel resumed its deliberations on charges that George lied to congressional committees about his knowledge of arms-for-hostage deals with Iran and the secret shipment of armaments to the Nicaraguan rebels. An earlier trial ended in a hung jury.
The jury was in its sixth day of deliberations when it sent a note Wednesday saying it had reached a partial verdict.
In an apparent effort to resolve questions about two counts, jurors also asked the judge to give them a dictionary definition of "contact."
The indictment accuses George of lying in 1986 by denying he knew that retired Air Force Maj. Gen. Richard V. Secord was running the clandestine arms operation under the direction of White House aide Oliver L. North.
In one episode, George was questioned by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee five days after a transport plane operated by a CIA-owned company was shot down in Nicaragua.
Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) asked George: "Do you have any contact with Gen. Secord?"
"I never met him," George replied. "I read in today's paper that he is alleged to be behind all of this. But I have never met him."
"You have never had any contact with him at all?" Kerry asked.
"None whatsoever," George said.
Secord testified that he had met George in the White House Situation Room.