CIA Employee Convicted of Espionage

Robert Lee Zimmer - Associated Press Writer - November 17, 1978

HAMMOND, Ind. - William Kampiles, a former CIA employee who dreamed of becoming a spy, was convicted of espionage Friday for stealing a top-secret satellite manual and selling it to the Russians for $3,000.

Kampiles, 23, who held a low-ranking CIA job in 1977, was convicted on four espionage counts and two lesser charges amounting to theft of government property. He faces a possible life sentence.

CIA officials testified at the trial that the sophisticated KH-11 satellite described in the manual can monitor foreign troop and equipment movements by photographing them from space. They said lose of the mental threatened U.S. security.

The jury heard eight days of testimony before U.S. District Judge Phil McNagny Jr., before deliberating a total of about 10 hours over two days.

After the verdict was read, Kampiles' mother, a Greek immigrant, rushed to her son, hugged him and wept openly.

Kampiles was led from the courtroom back to jail in the custody of federal marshals to await sentencing at an undetermined date.

Defense attorney Michael Monico said he would appeal.

"I don't think the evidence was there," Monico said. "I don't know what did him in, and I don't know what the jury believed."

U.S. Attorney David Ready said after the decision that he was not surprised. "We're pleased that the jury accepted the evidence," he said.

Ready said the faces of many of the jurors showed that it was a difficult decision. Several jurors appeared to be weeping as the verdict was read.

Kampiles was accused of stealing one of 350 copies of a top-secret technical manual for the satellite surveillance system and selling it to a Soviet official while vacationing in Athens, Greece, last February and March.

Sixteen other copies of the manual were missing as of Nov. 1, CIA officials said during the trial, and, Kampiles' defense charged, it was CIA paranoia at the loss of so many top-secret documents that led to the rush to prosecute someone, in this case Kampiles.

The government's case was based almost entirely on a confession that Kampiles admits giving FBI agents last Aug. 15.

Tears ran down Kampiles' cheeks during the closing arguments as Monico pleaded the confession, which he said was made under extreme pressure, and to consider what he called the complete lack of evidence that any crime actually had been committed.

The defense maintained that Kampiles was coerced into making that statement, but the defendant did not explain the reasons for his confession while on the witness stand.

Instead, the defense argued that federal prosecutors never offered any evidence to prove that Kampiles stole the technical manual or gave it to anyone else.

Ready said Kampiles was not questioned about reasons for his confession because McHagny, in chambers, advised lawyers that if the defense asked about coercion, the prosecution would then be allowed to introduce evidence about lie-detector tests.

Monico refused to comment about Ready's contention.

Both sides agreed that Kampiles had wanted to be an American spy nearly all his life, and that is why he took the CIA job.

Kampiles said he quit because he was not able to move up from his clerk's job to a position in the covert operations section.

He described his trip to Greece, during which he met four times with Michael Zavalis, an official of the Russian Embassy.

Kampiles said he convinced the Russian that he had access to classified documents and would sell them to the Soviets. In return for the promise, he said, the Russian gave him $3,000.

The government produced FBI experts on Soviet counter intelligence who testified that the Russians never give someone money until they receive and verify the authenticity of a classified document. Prosecutors said that meant Kampiles had stolen the KH-ll manual and had given it to the Russian.

However, the defense produced a CIA manual describing Soviet techniques for recruiting Americans. It said money frequently was used to entice Westerners to go to work for the Russians.

The defense and the prosecution agreed on the motive for Kampiles' meetings with the Russian - he hoped that after making contact, the CIA would be more likely to hire him as a double agent. But, the government contended that Kampiles felt the and justified the means, and, thus, sold the Russian the top-secret manual.

Kampiles returned from Greece and told the CIA about his meeting. CIA and FBI agents met with him to discuss the rendezvous, and said that on Aug. 15, after a day and a half of questioning, Kampiles confessed.