The Schwartz Case

September 14, 1995 - Shawn Cohen - Washington Jewish Week

The U.S. Navy formally charged an American naval commander with espionage for allegedly passing secret documents to the Saudi Arabian military. A court martial has been scheduled for November 14.

Lt. Cmdr. Michael Schwartz, with the Atlantic Fleet in Norfolk, Va., was arraigned September 7 at the Navy Legal Services Office in Norfolk. This action followed last month of an Article 32 investigation - the military's form of a grand jury - which determined that there are sufficient grounds to proceed with a court martial.

Lt. Schwartz has been accused of disseminating classified intelligence documents to officers in the Saudi Arabian naval force while he was assigned to the U.S. Military Training Mission in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, between November 1992 and September 1994.

Schwartz, 43, of El Paso, Texas, is charged with four violations of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) and other federal statutes for wilfully delivering national defense information on documents and computer diskettes to officers of a foreign naval service "with intent or reason to believe it would be used to the injury of the United States or to the advantage of the kingdom of Saudi Arabia."

The documents, which included classified messages to foreign countries, a series of military intelligence digests, intelligence advisories and tactical intelligence summaries, were classified up to the secret level and specified "no foreign disclosure."

Cmdr. Kenneth Frantz of the Atlantic Fleet was appointed in June to conduct an Article 32 investigation into the allegations. The most serious charge of espionage is punishable by up to life imprisonment, according to the UCMJ. A hearing, which was closed to the public, was held July 21 and continued August 4-8.

So far, the case has been handled entirely by the Atlantic Fleet. The Department of Defense, which has kept a close eye on the proceedings, has yet to get involved and is not commenting on the case.

Schwartz, a surface warfare officer, was reassigned to shore base command in the Norfolk area until the case is resolved.

"This case is certainly not on the scale of the Walker spy case; nonetheless these are serious charges," said Cmdr. Kevin Wensing, public affairs officer for the Atlantic Fleet, in June.

"This appears to be an isolated incident," Wensing added, noting that there is no indication Schwartz received any pay for the information.

Walker, a navy civilian, was convicted of spying for the former Soviet Union and passing American military secrets in the mid-1980's.

  • Return to The Schwartz Case