Soviet Woman Recants Earlier Spy Confession
LOS ANGELES (AP) _ A confessed spy who now denies she was a Soviet agent told a judge she was pressured into pleading guilty by her lawyers and said she changed her story because she wants to help her former lover, a fired FBI agent on trial for espionage.
In an emotional speech that began with the words: ″Your honor, we are not guilty of this crime,″ Svetlana Ogorodnikov, a Soviet emigre, poured out her story to U.S. District Judge David Kenyon 10 months after she stood before him and pleaded guilty to espionage charges.
Her comments, made in chambers Thursday, were released Friday by Kenyon. Jurors were not told of the development, and Mrs. Ogorodnikov, 35, resumed her defense testimony in the second trial of former FBI agent Richard Miller. A jury in November could not reach a verdict in Miller’s first trial.
Mrs. Ogorodnikov told the judge she wants to help Miller win acquittal because he is ″not a traitor,″ and said her husband, Nikolay, is innocent. Ogorodnikov, 53, also pleaded guilty and is serving a federal prison term.
″It’s hard to help a man that put you into jail,″ she said of Miller. ″But he is not guilty either ... I forgive him, but I cannot forget. And I forgive FBI, also the same. ″
In a day of shocking twists, Kenyon also threatened one of Miller’s lawyers, Stanley Greenberg, with prosecution for attempted obstruction of justice. He accused the lawyer of ″the grossest misconduct″ and said he also intended to hold him in contempt, presumably when the trial is over.
Kenyon claimed Greenberg tried to influence the selection of a new attorney to represent Mrs. Ogorodnikov after her statements in chambers. Greenberg said he could not comment because of a court-imposed gag order.
Mrs. Ogorodnikov, who had been testifying since Tuesday about sexual liaisons with another FBI agent, John Hunt, talked to the judge just before she was to tell jurors about her affair with Miller.
Miller, the only FBI agent ever charged with spying, is accused of giving Mrs. Ogorodnikov classified documents for the Soviet Union in exchange for promises of $65,000 in gold and cash.
The Soviet emigre, who wept several times during her talk with the judge, told him she had been awake in her prison cell all night and decided, ″The truth has to come out.
″If I am in prison, I don’t want somebody who is not guilty to be in prison too.
″Your honor, we are not guilty this crime.... Richard is not a traitor of his country. I am not Russian spy. I was helping (U.S.) government. This is true, your honor. We are not guilty in this crime.″
The transcript of the meeting with Kenyon indicated she spoke alternately in English and through a translator.
Mrs. Ogorodnikov said she pleaded guilty because her attorneys led her to believe an American jury would never believe the testimony of a Russian and her only choice was to accept an 18-year sentence and hope to get out in 10 years.
″I pleaded guilty, and my life is finished,″ she said. ″If I come back to the Soviet Union, they will anyway kill me.″
But she added, ″My hands are clean. I’m not take no one documents. I’m help to American, not Russian.″
Mrs. Ogorodnikov said several times that she was working for the FBI and said that even the Soviet Union thought she was helping the United States. Soviet agents once beat her when she visited Moscow, she said.
″Russian counterintelligence, they are not stupid,″ she said. ″...I think they understood that I was working for FBI.″
She recalled the day she came to court to plead guilty and spotted Miller’s son in the audience.
″I want to tell his son myself that your father is not guilty,″ she said.
When she returned to the witness stand Friday, Mrs. Ogorodnikov portrayed Miller to jurors as a loyal FBI agent trying to save his job by gaining information about Soviet officials from her.
″He had an emotional stress...,″ she said. ″He said that if I could help and give him this information, that would help his career.″
He even promised she would be well paid by the FBI and the CIA, she said.
Mrs. Ogorodnikov said she and Miller had sexual relations soon after they met in May 1984.