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Leung Claims Court Is Treating Her Unfairly

June 18, 2003|David Rosenzweig | Times Staff Writer

Lawyers for Katrina Leung, the businesswoman accused of illegally obtaining classified FBI documents, contend that prosecutors presented misleading information about her when they persuaded a magistrate to deny her bond.

In papers filed in advance of a bail review hearing scheduled for Thursday, Leung also charged the government with employing a double standard by allowing retired FBI counterintelligence agent James J. Smith, her co-defendant and longtime lover, to be freed on $250,000 bail.

"Ms. Leung notes the outrageous disparity in treatment appearing to be the product of institutional bias favoring the FBI, plus racism and sexism," Leung's defense lawyers, John Vandevelde and Janet Levine, wrote in a motion seeking her release on $1-million bond.

Leung, 49, of San Marino, worked as a paid FBI informant for nearly 20 years, during which time she supplied intelligence on Chinese diplomats in the United States and Chinese government officials in Beijing.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Thursday June 19, 2003 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 2 inches; 64 words Type of Material: Correction
Suspected Chinese spy -- The headline on an article in Wednesday's California section stated erroneously that alleged Chinese double-agent Katrina Leung had complained of being treated unfairly by the U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, where she is facing charges of illegally copying and possessing confidential FBI documents. The article reported that Leung's defense team had expressed criticism of her treatment by federal prosecutors.

But federal prosecutors say she also provided information on FBI counterintelligence operations to the Chinese Ministry of State Security.

In April, she was arrested and charged with illegally copying and possessing classified documents she had surreptitiously lifted from Smith's briefcase during his frequent visits to her home.

Smith, who retired from the FBI in 2000, is accused of criminal gross negligence for allegedly allowing her access to classified documents and fraud for concealing information that cast doubt on her reliability as far back as 1991.

Leung's lawyers also challenged government arguments that she might flee to her native China, which does not have an extradition treaty with the United States. Leung is a naturalized U.S. citizen. They argued that Chinese authorities would probably turn her away if she sought sanctuary at one of their embassies.

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