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Espionage case of former sergeant in hands of jury

Brian Patrick Regan, foreground, Assistant U.S. Attorney Patricia Haynes and Judge Gerald Bruce Lee shown in an earlier court session.
Brian Patrick Regan, foreground, Assistant U.S. Attorney Patricia Haynes and Judge Gerald Bruce Lee shown in an earlier court session.

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CNN's Bob Franken reports on closing arguments in the eight-day espionage trial of retired Air Force master sergeant Brian Patrick Regan (February 10)
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ALEXANDRIA, Virginia (CNN) -- The fate of a retired Air Force sergeant accused of offering to sell military secrets to Iraq, China and Libya was in the hands of a jury Monday afternoon after a two-week trial.

Brian Patrick Regan, a retired Air Force master sergeant, could be sentenced to death if convicted on three counts of attempted espionage and one count of illegally gathering national security information.

A jury of eight men and four women began deliberations Monday afternoon and will resume Wednesday.

Prosecutors say Regan offered to sell secrets from the National Reconnaissance Office, which analyzes information from U.S. spy satellites, to Iraq, China and Libya for $13 million.

The 40-year-old father of four from Bowie, Maryland, has pleaded innocent.

If convicted, he could become the first American executed for spying since 1953, when Ethel and Julius Rosenberg were put to death for conspiring to steal U.S. atomic secrets for the Soviet Union.

In closing arguments Monday, prosecutors recapped the evidence against Regan, including computer records and letters to Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi that federal agents found on his home computer's hard drive.

Regan's lawyer, Nina Ginsberg, said investigators had made a lot of mistakes collecting evidence against Regan. She said Regan was acting out a fantasy and never intended to hurt the United States.

A real spy would not have asked so much for so little information, Ginsberg said.

"They want you to assume the worst," she said.

Regan's letters promised he had 800 pages of CIA documents that were not found in five searches of his home, Ginsberg said.

But Assistant U.S. Attorney Patricia Haynes said Regan had information about laundering money and overseas bank accounts. She said Regan was arrested with a spiral notebook containing encrypted codes describing locations of a missile launcher in the northern no-fly zone of Iraq and of another spot in China.

"Brian Regan is not a fantasizer. Brian Regan is a traitor," Haynes said.

Regan worked at the National Reconnaissance Office, the government's satellite spy agency, first for the Air Force and then as a civilian employee of defense contractor TRW Inc.

He was arrested August 23, 2001, at Dulles International Airport outside Washington, where he was about to board a flight to Zurich, Switzerland. He was carrying coded coordinates of missile sites in Iraq and China, the types of missiles stored there and the dates the information was obtained, prosecutors say. The data allegedly came from classified satellite photographs of the missile sites.

Prosecutors said Regan had run up $116,000 in credit card debt, a good bit of it from his children's college tuition.

Last week, two national security experts testified that the U.S. intelligence Regan was carrying when he was arrested would not have harmed America if sold to another nation.

It is no secret the United States spies on Iraq and China and knows both countries' missile systems, said Maynard Anderson, former acting deputy undersecretary of defense for security policy.

Much of that information is available on the Internet and has been widely published, added Alan Shaw, an analyst with the Center for Naval Analysis, a Washington-area defense think tank.


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