ALEXANDRIA, Virginia (CNN) -- Career CIA employee Harold J.
Nicholson was charged Monday with espionage for passing classified secrets to the Russians for several years.
46, was accused of selling secrets to Moscow for at least
Nicholson, who lives in Burke, Virginia, was described by law
enforcement officials as divorced and a father of children
who do not live with him.
Arrested at airport
Nicholson was suspected of receiving at least $100,000
in payments from Russia and was arrested without incident
Saturday afternoon at Dulles International Airport in
northern Virginia as he was about to leave on a trip, the
One source said the trip was not CIA business; two sources
said he was not fleeing the country.
FBI Director Louis Freeh and CIA Director John Deutch called
an afternoon news conference at FBI headquarters to provide
details of the case.
Nicholson had served overseas in Kuala Lumpur, the capital
of Malaysia, according to law enforcement sources. But more
recently, they said, he was training new agents at "The
Farm," as the CIA refers to its Virginia training site.
It was not yet clear what information Nicholson was
accused of sharing, or how authorities had come to suspect
But a source said the FBI and CIA found $100,000 in
"suspiciously timed cash deposits" believed to have been
payments for spying.
Comparison to Ames spy case
The case is the second time a career CIA employee has been
accused of spying for Russia. In 1994, counterintelligence
Ames was sentenced to life in prison without parole
after he admitted selling secrets to the Soviets for eight
The agency has said Ames' treachery led to the deaths of 10
Western agents and compromised dozens of operations.
U.S. officials say the new case does not appear to be as
serious as the Ames' case and that this arrest is the result
of lessons learned from that case.
Alleged spy since at least 1994
It was unclear when the alleged spying began.
U.S. officials suspect Nicholson was working for Moscow
before the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, one official
said. But the case was not unearthed until mid-1994 after
Nicholson failed a lie detector test, a source said.
The question of whether the Soviet KGB or the Russian
intelligence agencies that succeeded it after the collapse of
the Soviet Union has penetrated the CIA beyond Ames has been
heavily debated in spy circles.
Ames has said he did not know of any other moles within the
Officials did not say if money was suspected to be Nicholson's sole motive for spying, although in other recent
cases involving Americans, the reason was financial gain.
The Soviets paid Ames more than $2.5 million for his
Correspondent Carl Rochelle, The Associated
Press and Reuters
contributed to this report.
Related site: Note: Pages will
open in a new browser window
External sites are not endorsed by CNN
© 1996 Cable News Network, Inc.
All Rights Reserved.