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World - Europe

Report: NATO spy leaked attack routes in Yugoslav war

graphic

U.S. officials call report inaccurate

August 26, 1999
Web posted at: 10:37 p.m. EDT (0237 GMT)

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A Scottish newspaper is reporting that a spy within NATO's command structure informed Russia about the attack routes of U.S. stealth fighters during the bombing campaign against Yugoslavia, but senior U.S. officials told CNN the report is inaccurate.

The Scotsman, a daily newspaper published in Edinburgh, reports that an unidentified NATO officer leaked the flight routes and planned targets of F-117A stealth fighters to Moscow. The Russians then passed the information on to the Serbs, according to the report, on the condition that Belgrade allowed Russians to be present when the planes were attacked.

The article, written by defense analyst Paul Beaver, quotes NATO sources who said the officer was based in Brussels and had access to highly sensitive documents. The article says a NATO officer remains in custody.

However, a source on the staff of NATO's supreme commander for Europe, Wesley Clark, told CNN that while "we are aware that information was getting to the Serbs," there is "no information indicating that it was a spy or (coming from) anyone within NATO."

Several knowledgeable U.S. sources said they are not aware of the arrest of any NATO officer for alleged espionage except for a French major who has since been released for lack of evidence.

One U.S. official said he is not aware of "any evidence" suggesting the Russians might have passed on targeting information to the Serbs.

The documents The Scotsman reports were leaked to Russian military intelligence included NATO air tasking orders for stealth fighter bombing runs over Belgrade and its surrounding area on March 27 and 28.

F1117
An F-117A stealth fighter was shot down near Belgrade on March 27  

A F-117A stealth fighter was shot down near Belgrade on March 27. The pilot ejected safely and was recovered by allied search teams. But U.S. officials said air tasking orders for U.S. aircraft never went through NATO channels, and they are confident no U.S. citizen gave them to the Russians.

Beaver's article says Belgrade took the flight information from Russian officials with the agreement that Russia would have personnel present at the "ambush" sites.

The Russians' goal, according to the article, was to get material from the downed stealth fighter away from the scene as quickly as possible, because they feared the site would be targeted by NATO bombers in a later wave of attacks.

Pentagon officials have told CNN the site was not bombed in part because many civilians had gathered to the see the wreckage and because the 1970s stealth technology of the F-117A was not considered sensitive enough to warrant a military strike to protect it.

Correspondents Jonathan Aiken and David Ensor and producer Chris Plante contributed to this report.



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RELATED SITES:
NATO
The Scotsman Online
Jane's Defence Weekly
U.S. Department of Defense
U. S. Air Force
   •F-117A Nighthawk
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