Gov't Seeks To Deny Bail for Lee

December 24, 1999 - Richard Benke - Associated Press Writer

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - Scientist Wen Ho Lee stole America's nuclear secrets by entering false information into a computer to gain access and lied about contacts with Chinese intelligence agents, according to a new court filing by federal prosecutors.

The documents filed Thursday in U.S. District Court accuse Lee of lying to Los Alamos National Laboratory employees "to further his scheme to download information onto portable cassette tapes." He allegedly altered classified documents to mask their nature.

Prosecutors are asking U.S. District Judge James Parker to uphold last week's order preventing bond for the fired Los Alamos computer expert. A bail review hearing was scheduled for Monday.

"Lee stole America's nuclear secrets sufficient to build a functional thermonuclear weapon. Lee absconded with that information on computer tapes, seven of which are still missing. Those missing tapes, in the hands of an unauthorized possessor, pose a mortal danger to every American," says the pleading submitted by U.S. Attorney John Kelly and Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Gorence.

"There are no conditions of release that can reasonably assure the nation's security," they said.

Defense attorneys contend the tapes were destroyed. Prosecutors said there was no evidence of that.

Lee is accused of 59 violations of the Atomic Energy and Espionage acts, most alleging the transfer of nuclear secrets from secure computers to unsecure computers and to computer tapes. If convicted he could face life in prison, and attorneys have said Lee could spend up to a year in jail before his trial.

Lee has pleaded innocent and he has not been charged with giving material to a foreign government. He was accused of lying to federal investigators several times over the past 16 years, including about the circumstances of two trips to China. Prosecutors said he at first denied being approached by Chinese intelligence officers and later admitted he had lied.

Lee's attorney, Mark Holscher, did not return several messages left for him on Thursday. In a letter included with the documents, Holscher said Lee will submit to a polygraph test to prove that Lee didn't mishandle the tapes and to confirm that "he did not provide the tapes to any third party."

Lee has sued the U.S. government, claiming he has been the victim of a smear campaign labeling him as a spy for China.

Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz said the case was "very, very weak" and that Lee should be released on bail.

"They're coming up with a series of jaywalking charges on the theory that if they come up with enough jaywalking charges, eventually they will get a prison sentence," Dershowitz said Thursday by phone from Boston. "What the government's afraid of is he's going to win, not that he's going to flee."

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