Archive for Monday, February 5, 2001

Fired Los Alamos scientist to pursue source of new government leaks

February 5, 2001

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— Attorneys for a former Los Alamos scientist expressed concern Sunday over news leaks suggesting prosecutors want to resume questioning him about downloading restricted data and other matters.

The Washington Post, citing unnamed sources, reported Sunday that the FBI and federal prosecutors were considering seeking court approval to further question Wen Ho Lee, who pleaded guilty to a single count Sept. 13 and agreed to be interrogated under oath for 60 days.

In exchange, the government agreed to drop 58 other counts of downloading restricted data against Lee and to limit future contacts, beyond the 60-day debriefing, to informal questioning. Lee, who was not accused of espionage, was jailed nine months in solitary confinement before the plea bargain.

"Dr. Lee has cooperated with the government, and the government has not notified us of any of the matters that have apparently been leaked to the press," defense attorney Mark Holscher said in Los Angeles.

The Post attributed its report to sources close to the investigation. It said prosecutors and FBI agents were not satisfied with Lee's answers during debriefing sessions that ended Dec. 12. Lee's plea agreement provides for him to make himself available for informal followup inquiries until Sept. 13, 2001, but not for under-oath interrogations.

"There's been a disturbing pattern of anonymous leaks in this case from the outset, almost all of which have been proven to be false," Holscher said.

Such leaks gave impetus to a civil lawsuit filed last year by Lee, 61, and his wife, alleging an invasion of their privacy. The lawsuit, filed by attorney Brian Sun, is pending in Washington, D.C.

Sun said Sunday in California that any new leaks will not be overlooked in his case against the government. "We're going to definitely pursue that," he said.

A conference is scheduled Feb. 12 before U.S. District Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson in Washington.

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