America's Double Standard of Justice

Officer Discharged In Spy Case

November 16, 1995 - Shawn Cohen - The Washington Jewish Week

The U.S. Navy granted an "other than honorable" discharge to a commander who had been charged with espionage for allegedly passing secrets to the Saudi Arabian military.

By accepting this arrangement, Lt. Commander Michael Schwartz, a 15-year veteran of the Navy, avoided a court martial that had been scheduled for last Tuesday. Originally charged with mishandling classified documents, making a false statement and espionage, Schwartz acknowledged guilt to the first two charges and agreed "to continue to fully cooperate with investigators assigned to the case."

Under the agreement, Schwartz will lose his rank and the possibility of collecting retirement or other military benefits. Schwartz remains assigned to a command at the Norfolk Naval base pending his formal discharge, which is expected later this month.

Schwartz has been accused of disseminating classified intelligence documents to officials 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. He was arraigned in September following the completion 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.

Schwartz, 43, of El Paso, was charged with four violations of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) and other federal statutes for willfully delivering national defense information on documents and computer diskettes to officers of a foreign naval service "with intent or reason to believe it would 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."

Navy officials who handled the case did not respond to calls by press time.

An attorney for Jonathan Pollard, the Israeli spy who is serving a life term in the United States, said the outcome of the Schwartz case is troubling.

"The blatant discrepancy between the life sentence imposed on Jonathan Pollard for spying for Israel over an 18-month period and the absence of any penalty whatsoever for a American Navy commander who spied for Saudi Arabia over a two-year period only adds to the terrible stench surrounding the Pollard affair," said Pollard attorney David Kirshenbaum.

"There were no public expressions of U.S. government outrage at Saudi Arabia's 'arrogance' and 'ingratitude' - epithets thrown at Israel following Pollard's arrest - for running a spy in the U.S. Navy just one year after the United States saved the Saudis from destruction in the Persian Gulf War."

Kirshenbaum added, "Unlike the Pollard case, the story of the Saudi spy was never front page news. In fact, very people in the country or even in the media have even heard of the case."

  • Return to The Schwartz Case