A naval officer investigated for allegedly giving secrets to Saudi Arabia will face a military trial on espionage and other charges in Norfolk and could face a life prison sentence if convicted.
The court-martial of Lt. Cmdr. Michael Schwartz, 43, of El Paso, scheduled for November 14, will be public, but parts of it may be closed if the evidence involves classified material, Cmdr. Kevin Wensing, a Navy spokesman, said yesterday.
A jury of five officers will decide whether Schwartz illegally disclosed classified information while he was assigned to the U.S. military training mission in Saudi Arabia between November 1992 and September 1994.
According to the charges, Schwartz provided the Saudis will daily intelligence summaries and mishandled secret material, keeping it in a gym bag and taking it home.
Navy officials said that Schwartz did not sell the information and did not gain personally and that the information he allegedly provided was not highly sensitive. They said he was trying to be friendly and cooperative with the Saudis, whose ties to this country strengthened when U.S. forces used Saudi soil as a staging ground for the Persian Gulf War.
Greg D. McCormack, a civilian lawyer hired by Schwartz, did not return a telephone call placed by the Associated Press yesterday. In a July interview, he said espionage was too severe a charge for allegations that amounted to dereliction of duty and failure to properly safeguard government materials.