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Lawyer: Soldier says he's innocent of attempted espionage

By the CNN Wire Staff
updated 4:21 PM EST, Tue November 8, 2011
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Spc. William Colton Millay faces charges including communicating military information
  • His lawyer says Millay told him he is not guilty
  • Soldier believed he was giving info to "a foreign intelligence agent," military says
  • The 22-year-old Kentucky native enlisted in the U.S. Army in 2007

(CNN) -- The attorney representing the 22-year-old Kentucky soldier charged with attempted espionage and communicating military information said Tuesday that his client told him he is innocent.

"Generally speaking, yes -- that he is not guilty of attempted espionage or spying against the United States," Stephen Karns said of what the solider told him.

Spc. William Colton Millay of Owensboro, Kentucky, was charged this week 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 Millay was arrested at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, said Col. Bill Coppernoll, the public affairs officer at the base.

According to a statement 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 that 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."

He is currently being held at the Anchorage Correctional Complex, according to the military statement.

Karns, Millay's attorney, said that it may be important that the material allegedly involved in the case was not classified.

"It is very serious charges. My hope is it is not going to amount to what they are claiming," he said.

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 statement. He was assigned to the 164th Military Police Company, 793rd Military Police Battalion, 2nd Engineer Brigade, known as the "Arctic Enforcers."

Longtime friend Drew Bramschreiber of Owensboro has said 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," Payne said. "That's just not who he is."

CNN's Charley Keyes contributed to this report.

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