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FBI Has No Proof Spy Letters Sent

January 29, 2003|From Associated Press

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — The government has no evidence that a former Air Force master sergeant accused of espionage ever sent letters he wrote to Iraqi and Libyan leaders offering to sell them American military secrets, an FBI agent testified Tuesday.

Brian Patrick Regan also never spoke with any potential foreign agents or engaged in other types of suspicious behavior while under constant surveillance, according to the agent, a witness in the first spy trial in 50 years that could result in the death penalty.

"I am a Middle East/North Africa analyst for the Central Intelligence Agency. I am willing to commit espionage" against the United States, Regan allegedly wrote in a letter to President Saddam Hussein of Iraq.

The letter was included in documents read in U.S. District Court by FBI agent Steven Carr, who headed the investigation that led to the retired master sergeant's arrest.

At the time, Regan worked for a civilian contractor at the National Reconnaissance Office, a government spy agency.

He indicated in the letter that he was a 20-year CIA veteran nearing retirement and deserved more than the agency's small pension.

He offered to provide access to more than 800 pages of classified information in exchange for $13 million in Swiss francs. He called the offer "a chance of a lifetime."

Regan wrote a nearly identical letter to Libyan leader Moammar Kadafi, according to documents found on a laptop computer agents seized in Regan's home. Carr acknowledged the computer used to belong to the government and might have contained information from past users.

Regan, 40, has pleaded innocent to charges he offered sensitive information to Iraq, Libya and China.

Defense attorneys maintain the Bowie, Md., resident was acting out a spy fantasy, lacked access to valuable information and never had any serious intent to jeopardize U.S. security.

FBI agents had tapped Regan's phone, tracked his computer keystrokes and videotaped him at work for weeks before his Aug. 23, 2001, arrest outside Washington Dulles International Airport, where he was prepared to fly to Zurich, Switzerland.

A jail officer who conducted a strip-search of Regan after his arrest testified he found a piece of paper tucked between two insoles in one of Regan's shoes. The paper contained addresses of the embassies and other diplomatic buildings that Iraq and China occupied in France, Switzerland and Austria, according to a retired State Department officer who examined the document.

Carr said Regan constantly accessed Internet information, some classified, on Iraq and Libya while he worked at the National Reconnaissance Office, which operates U.S. spy satellites.

He also frequently used a public library's computer to get details about foreign embassies. However, Carr said he was unaware of any personal contact Regan made with possible foreign officers, either in the United States or during a June 2001 trip to Europe.

Few spy cases make it to court because the government would rather cut a deal than risk revealing secrets in open court.

As a partial resolution of that problem, attorneys have been displaying evidence to jurors and witnesses on computer monitors and a large television screen that is out of view of court spectators.

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