Appeals Court Upholds Arthur Walker’s Spy-Related Convictions
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) _ A federal appeals court today upheld the espionage conviction of retired Navy officer Arthur J. Walker on charges he helped his brother sell defense secrets to the Soviet Union.
″Considering the evidence in the light most favorable to the government, we conclude that a rational trier of fact could find that each of the offenses was proven beyond a reasonable doubt,″ a three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said in a 14-page ruling.
Walker was convicted last August of taking classified information from his defense contractor employer and passing it to his brother, John A. Walker Jr.
U.S. District Judge J. Calvitt Clarke Jr., hearing the case without a jury, had sentenced Arthur Walker to the maximum three life terms plus 40 years and fined him $250,000. The government alleged that the family spy ring was masterminded by John Walker, Arthur Walker’s younger brother who also was a retired Navy officer. John Walker pleaded guilty last October to espionage and was sentenced to life in prison.
Attorneys for Arthur Walker contended in the appeal that the government failed to prove two essential elements of espionage - that their client passed information to the Soviets and that he knew the information would help them and hurt the United States.
″The gist of his argument is that the government did not prove that John Walker was a Soviet agent or that John Walker ever passed the documents given to him by Arthur Walker to a Soviet agent,″ the Richmond-based appeals court said.
″This argument fails because the government presented sufficient evidence to prove that John Walker was a Soviet agent,″ the court said.
According to the appeals court, Arthur Walker entered into an arrangement with his brother to supply information about the readiness of Navy ships that was taken from Arthur Walker’s employer.
John Walker had told his brother that he had friends who would pay for the information. The court said Arthur Walker was aware that the friends were Soviets.
J. Brian Donnelly, one of Arthur Walker’s lawyers, said today from his Norfolk office that he had not seen the ruling.
″The usual position would be to read the opinion to see if there’s anything in there that would support taking the case further. Beyond that I really can’t comment,″ he said.
″Arthur Walker testified before the grand jury about conversations with John Walker in which John Walker described the methods he used to transfer defense information to Soviet agents in the United States and how, on at least one occasion, he had flown to Vienna, Austria, to deliver material and receive money,″ the court said.
John Walker’s son Michael also pleaded guilty to espionage in connection with the spy ring and was sentenced to 25 years in prison. Michael Walker was a Navy seaman at the time he was arrested.
A fourth defendant in the case, Jerry A. Whitworth, is on trial in San Francisco. Whitworth and John Walker were buddies in the Navy.