FBI Arrests State Department Employee, Journalist, on Espionage Charges
WASHINGTON (AP) _ A State Department secretary has been charged with passing secret diplomatic cables to a West African journalist who relayed them to rebels trying to topple the Liberian government, the government said today.
Geneva Jones, 47, was accused of smuggling the documents out of the State Department in rolled-up newspapers, her purse or a bag and delivering them to Dominic Ntube, a journalist, and to a Kenyan national named Fabian Makani, according to court papers.
FBI agents said they searched Ntube’s apartment, where he was arrested Tuesday, and found thousands of State Department documents and 39 CIA documents marked secret.
Makani was not charged, although FBI agents today searched an office in Silver Spring, Md., listed in the telephone directory as Makani’s business.
Jones and Ntube were scheduled to appear before a federal magistrate later today.
The court papers said that investigators turned up evidence that Ntube had transmitted copies of documents by facsimile machine to Liberian rebels. A State Department investigator who visited the abandoned headquarters of Liberian rebel leader Charles Taylor found 14 classified State Department cables that had been transmitted from a fax machine in Ntube’s apartment, the court papers said.
Both Jones and Ntube are charged with illegally transmitting classified documents, a charge that carries a 10-year prison term and a $10,000 fine.
After her arrest, Jones told FBI agents she had been passing classified State Department cables to Ntube for 18 months, according to FBI affidavits. The papers indicated that she had a separate arrangement with Makani.
Jones, who worked in the Strategic and Theater Policy Office, sorted and distributed classified cables sent to the State Department from U.S. embassies worldwide, the court papers said.
Telephone wiretaps and surveillance by FBI agents produced evidence that she delivered documents to Makani at an office in Silver Spring, Md.
She also delivered some 130 State Department cables to Ntube between June 28 and July 29 by smuggling the material out of the building, the papers said. These cables were marked either ″confidential″ or ″secret,″ according to court papers filed by FBI agents investigating the case.
Jones was arrested Tuesday about 5:15 p.m. as she left the State Department. Ntube was arrested two hours later at his Washington apartment.
A citizen of Cameroon, Ntube publishes a newsletter called The Continent and heads an organization that promotes African culture in the nation’s capital.
The office where Jones worked deals with such issues as the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, the safe dismantling of nuclear weapons, nuclear testing and nuclear weapons in the former Soviet Union, said a State Department official who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Makani was identified as a native of Kenya who overstayed the 1985 visa he used to enter the country.
Last fall, The Associated Press received faxed copies of U.S. Embassy documents marked secret or confidential from Taylor, the Liberian rebel leader. The documents assessed the military capabilities of a seven-nation West African force which had been sent to Liberia in an effort to bring peace.
Jones was charged under a provision of the espionage statute that bars transmission of documents containing classified defense secrets by a person unauthorized to have access to the material to someone else who is ″not entitled to receive it.″
Court papers said she did not have authority to remove the documents from her office.
Ntube is charged with willfully keeping the information and failing to return it to a U.S. official.
The FBI said its investigation was assisted by State Department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security.