Former CIA employee charged with espionage
April 3, 1998
Web posted at: 2:47 p.m. EST (1947 GMT)
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A former CIA employee has been charged with espionage, and is being held without bail pending a detention hearing scheduled for April 9, the Justice Department and FBI announced Friday.
Frederick Douglas Groat had his first appearance in federal court on Friday and entered a not guilty plea on all five charges, two of which could carry the death penalty.
U.S. District Judge Norma Holloway Johnson ordered Groat held without bail, after federal prosecutors argued that Groat's training in "false identity and deception" made him a flight risk.
"He has no ties to the community and he possesses sensitive classified information" that could be communicated to other nations if he were permitted to go free, Prosecutor Eric Dubelier said.
Officials said Groat was arrested Thursday in Washington. The investigation had been ongoing for about a year, they said.
Groat was indicted by a federal grand jury on March 27 on: three counts of communication of national defense information to foreign governments, one count of communication of information of graphic systems to a foreign government and one count of attempting to extort more than $500,000 from the
CIA in return for agreeing not to reveal to CIA activities and methods to other governments.
Officials said two of the counts could carry the death penalty, and that U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno would decide whether to seek the maximum penalty.
Groat was employed by the CIA from May 1980 until October 1996. The Associated Press reported that he had been fired from his job.
U.S. District Attorney Wilma Lewis called Groat's alleged spying "a very serious espionage case." (305K/29 sec. AIFF or WAV sound)
Justice sources say the case, while important, is not as significant as two other recent CIA espionage cases. But law enforcement officials are concerned because it represents the third major case filed against CIA personnel in the last four years.
Aldrich Ames was arrested four years ago and pleaded guilty to providing the former Soviet Union with the names of at least 11 U.S. operatives. Some were thought to be killed because of that information.
Harold Nicholson pleaded guilty last year to selling secrets to Russia. He was the highest-ranking CIA officer ever convicted of espionage.
Justice Correspondent Pierre Thomas contributed to this report.