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Sources: Navy sailor suspected of spying for Russia

From Barbara Starr
CNN Washington Bureau

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The Navy says Ariel Weinmann served on the submarine Albuquerque.

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Espionage and Intelligence
U.S. Navy
Russia

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A sailor facing espionage and desertion charges has been held at a Norfolk, Virginia, brig since March, the U.S. Navy said Wednesday.

Ariel Weinmann, 21, is suspected of having worked on behalf of Russia, said military sources close to the case.

He was likely to have had access to technical manuals and other material on submarine systems, Navy sources said. No one else in the Navy is suspected of having worked with Weinmann, they said.

The fire control technician third class, assigned to the submarine USS Albuquerque, attempted on three occasions to pass classified information to foreign agents, the charges against him state.

Those incidents occurred in March 2005 in Bahrain; October 2005 in Vienna, Austria; and March 2006 in Mexico City, Mexico, according to the charges.

In addition to the espionage allegations, Weinmann also faces desertion charges, which could result in the death penalty. He is accused of deserting in July 2005 during his first tour of duty.

A customs agent took Weinmann into custody March 26 at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport when he tried to re-enter the United States.

The case is the second involving allegations of military spying by Russia. The Defense Department has said it suspects Russia collected information about American intelligence in Iraq from U.S. Central Command in Doha, Qatar, in 2003.

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