Kentucky soldier charged with attempted espionage

Story highlights

  • Spc. William Colton Millay faces several charges, including communicating military info
  • He believed he was giving info to "a foreign intelligence agent," the military says
  • His friends have expressed shock at the claims, with one saying he's "the wrong guy"
  • The 22-year-old Kentucky native enlisted in the U.S. Army in 2007
A 22-year-old Kentucky soldier was charged Monday with attempted espionage and communicating military information, allegations that have shocked friends who have described him as a patriotic country boy.
The formal charges were issued 10 days after Spc. William Colton Millay of Owensboro, Kentucky, was arrested at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, according to Col. Bill Coppernoll, the public affairs officer at the base.
According to news release from the base, issued Monday, Millay "communicated and transmitted unclassified national defense information to an individual whom he believed was a foreign intelligence agent." The Army specialist "believed (this information) could be used to the advantage of a foreign nation."
A charge of failure to obey general regulations stems from an assertion Millay did not "report multiple contacts with someone he believed to be a foreign intelligence agent." He is also accused of "wrongfully concealing and storing two firearms and ammunition in his assigned barracks room."
The military further alleges that Millay "wrongfully solicited a fellow-service member to obtain classified information and tangible items" so that they could be given to a foreign intelligence agent, leading to a charge of solicitation.
He is also charged with making false statements, having allegedly not been forthright in telling Army counterintelligence officials "the full scope" of his attempted contacts with other governments and "the full nature" of what he'd disclosed to the believed-to-be foreign agent.
Military authorities did not disclose what information specifically Millay allegedly obtained and disclosed, but they described it as not classified. Nor did they state which country he believed that information was going to, via a "foreign intelligence agent."
Yet last week, FBI spokesman Eric Gonzalez said that it did not involve any actual transfer of information, via the Internet or otherwise.
"Millay was being observed well before any damage could have occurred," Gonzalez said.
He denied that Millay's case had any connection to that of Bradley Manning, the Army private suspected of leaking classified information to the website WikiLeaks.
Having enlisted in the Army in November 2007, Millay was based in South Korea and Fort Stewart, Georgia, and spent one tour of combat duty in Iraq before being assigned to the Alaska base in May, according to the military release. He was assigned to the 164th Military Police Company, 793rd Military Police Battalion, 2nd Engineer Brigade, known as the "Arctic Enforcers."
Millay is currently being held at the Anchorage Correctional Complex, according to Monday's military statement.
Earlier attempts by CNN to reach the Kentucky native's family have been unsuccessful. Longtime friend Drew Bramschreiber of Owensboro has said that Millay hardly fit the spy persona.
"He's just a simple country boy," he said. "He was never the kind of guy who would get into trouble."
Another friend, Janssen Payne, said last week that Millay idolized his brother, who is also in the Army, and that he had been in the ROTC program in high school. He was a supporter of President George W. Bush and the U.S. war effort in Iraq and Afghanistan, his friend said.
"You've got the wrong guy," said Janssen Payne. "That's just not who he is."