Claiming to have cracked a spy ring that went undetected for two decades, the FBI leveled espionage charges Monday against a Pentagon analyst, her husband and another man. Investigators said the analyst bragged to an undercover agent how easy it was to steal secrets.
Recruited by East Germany during their student days at the University of Wisconsin in the early and mid-1970s, the three trained for years in the ways of Soviet spycraft, sought positions in and around government and used the access they gained to steal classified documents, the government alleged.
When the Cold War ended, the husband-wife team and the third person, an expert in Slavic languages, sought new opportunities spying for South Africa, according to the allegations.
Theresa Marie Squillacote is quoted in the allegations as exclaiming in joy after making a new contact last year with a man she thought was a South African official.
“All those years and I did it!” she is quoted as saying in an intercepted telephone call. In fact, the man was an FBI agent under cover.
In a brief appearance in federal court in Alexandria, Va., Monday, Squillacote, 39, the former Defense department analyst; her husband, Kurt Alan Stand, 42, a labor union representative, and James Clark, a private detective, were charged with attempted espionage and conspiracy to commit espionage. The latter crime carries a maximum life in prison and $250,000 fine.
Stand and Squillacote were arrested after they were lured to a hotel in Arlington, Va., Saturday for what they thought was a meeting with one of their South African contacts. Clark was arrested Saturday at his Falls Church, Va., home, the FBI said.
The investigation was aided by a wealth of intelligence collected by electronic interceptions, interviews with former East German agents and highly sensitive East German intelligence records - including “true name cards” that identify agents working in the United States.
“When the Berlin Wall came down in October 1990, Kurt Stand, Terry Squillacote and Jim Clark did not surrender or lay down their tools of their espionage trade,” said Thomas J. Pickard, assistant director of the FBI’s Washington field office.
Stopping short of charging the trio with actual espionage is standard FBI practice, because of the difficulty of proving in court actual spying. Nevertheless, a 200-page affidavit filed by Special Agent Katharine G. Alleman makes clear that the government believes the three gave secrets to East Germany. From there, the stolen information almost certainly would have gone to the Soviet KGB.
The damage to U.S. national security appears less serious than the Aldrich Ames spy case, in which Soviets helping the CIA were exposed.
The FBI says the trio obtained State Department, Pentagon and CIA documents on Soviet military plans and personnel. In addition, they are accused of providing information on chemical weapons that appears to have been of little interest to East Germany.