Bail Is Set For Spy Suspect, But Release Is Delayed

October 1, 1996 - The New York Times

ALEXANDRIA, Va., Sept. 30 (AP) - A Federal magistrate said today that a military intelligence worker accused of passing secret documents to South Korea should be freed on bond, but then ordered that the worker remain in prison to give prosecutors a day to appeal the decision.

Magistrate W. Curtis Sewell ordered the worker, Robert C. Kim, freed on $200,000 bond, plus more than $500,000 in home equity put up by four members of Mr. Kim's church. Prosecutors have until 5 P.M. on Tuesday to make any appeals.

Mr. Kim, 56, a civilian intelligence analyst for the Navy, is accused of passing more than 50 classified documents to an agent of his native South Korea. According to a 20-page affidavit released when Mr. Kim was arrested last week, the Government videotaped him photocopying secret documents and, by intercepting his mail and wiretapping his telephone, obtained evidence that he mailed the documents to Dong-Il Baek, a South Korean naval attaché, earlier this year.

In the furor surrounding Mr. Kim's arrest last week, Mr. Baek was recalled to Seoul by the South Korean Government.

Mr. Kim's primary work centered on a computer system that monitors international ship traffic, and he was charged under a relatively low-level espionage statute that carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.

Assistant United States Attorney Robert Chesnut said the Federal Government could still develop a more serious case against Mr. Kim, one that would require him to be held in prison.

He said that espionage defendants typically represented a tremendous risk of flight and had no job, more than $200,000 in credit-card debt and ties to the community that are weak at best.

But the courtroom was packed with more than 50 Koreans, who Mr. Kim's lawyer, Jim Clark, said were friends of Mr. Kim's and fellow parishioners at the Korea United Methodist Church in McLean, Va.

Four of those church members pledged more than half a million dollars in equity in their homes in hopes of securing Mr. Kim's release.

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