SPRINGFIELD, Va. — The Navy on Friday dropped all charges against a sailor it accused of spying for the Russians after the military judge questioned the evidence in the case.
Cmdr. James P. Winthrop, the officer overseeing the Navy's prosecution of Petty Officer 1st Class Daniel King, said in a letter earlier in the day that he doubts the validity of a confession King allegedly gave to investigators.
"I don't believe the government evidence on any of the charges is strong," wrote Winthrop, who has served as the case's investigating officer, the military equivalent of a pretrial judge.
While King's lawyer characterized the case as an egregious abuse of authority, Navy spokeswoman Cmdr. Roxie Merritt said King remains "a self-admitted traitor."
King, a former cryptographist at the National Security Agency in Ft. Meade, Md., has been detained at Quantico Marine Corps Base since October 1999. King's lawyer, Jonathan Turley, picked up his client Friday night at Quantico.
"He's sort of numb," Turley said. "When we picked him up at the brig, he gave us all big hugs."