Jurors begin deliberating in trial of spy suspect

Tuesday, February 11, 2003

ALEXANDRIA, Va. -- Jurors began weighing spy suspect Brian Patrick Regan's guilt or innocence Monday after prosecutors argued that, for $13 million, he would have sold Iraq or Libya "whatever they would have paid for."

Defense attorneys said the intelligence information he carried when arrested would not have compromised U.S. security and wasn't even secret -- it could readily be found through public sources.

The jury deliberated about an hour, then broke for the night. Jurors were to take off today and resume deliberations Wednesday.

Denies allegations

Regan, 40, of Bowie, Md., has denied trying to sell classified information to Iraq, Libya and China. The retired Air Force master sergeant worked both as a military member and as a civilian employee for defense contractor TRW Inc. at the National Reconnaissance Office, the government's spy satellite agency.

If convicted, he could become the first American executed for spying since 1953, when Ethel and Julius Rosenberg were put to death for conspiring to steal U.S. atomic secrets for the Soviet Union.

Summing up the case, Assistant U.S. Attorney James Gillis contended Regan sent letters that offered to sell top-secret intelligence information to Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi for $13 million. Investigators found the documents on a laptop computer taken from Regan's home.

Regan checked a special e-mail address he had set up to receive responses to the offer, Gillis said.

Defense attorney Nina Ginsberg said the prosecution presented no evidence that Regan sent the letters, which were riddled with misspellings.

"The letter which is so damaging in the government's view was never sent to Saddam Hussein," Ginsberg said in her closing argument. "How would this terrible information come into Saddam Hussein's hands?"

Ginsberg also said the FBI mishandled the laptop computer, failing to use certain software to ensure that the contents were copied exactly as they were on the hard drive and noting that the letters were not found until six months after Regan was arrested.

Countered Assistant U.S. Attorney Patricia Haynes in her rebuttal: "Was she implying that the FBI planted those letters? If that's what she was implying, why didn't she just say it?"

Regan was arrested Aug. 23, 2001, at Dulles International Airport near Washington as he was about to fly to Zurich, Switzerland. He was carrying coded coordinates of missile sites in Iraq and China, the types of missiles stored there and the dates the information was obtained. The data allegedly came from classified satellite photographs of the missile sites.

Prosecutors say Regan, a father of four, wanted to sell the information to pay off personal debts of more than $100,000.

Ginsberg acknowledged that when arrested Regan was carrying missile information. But she said the classified satellite photos that contained that data had included more sensitive details that Regan had not copied down.

"The information Mr. Regan had with him -- the only thing we know he did for sure -- would not have harmed the United States and would not aid another country," Ginsberg said. She called Regan's actions "childish," "unprofessional," "nonsense" and "harebrained."

"No serious foreign power would ever want to deal with this person," Ginsberg said.

Haynes said Regan searched classified information that would help Iraq, China and Libya at the expense of the United States. She said he was not playing spy, but actually was willing to sell out the U.S. government for the right price.

"Brian Regan is not a fantasizer," she said. "Brian Regan is a traitor."


On the Net: U.S. District Court: http://www.vaed.uscourts.gov

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