Retired Agent Says He Used Soviet Woman in Attempted Ruse
LOS ANGELES (AP) _ A retired FBI agent testified Thursday he used a Soviet woman in a ″dangle″ operation, an attempt to convince Russian officials he was available for espionage work.
John Hunt, under cross-examination at the espionage trial of Svetlana and Nikolay Ogorodnikov, admitted he knew the term ″dangle″ meant ″to make a person appear that he was malleable for espionage work.″
Hunt, who was head of a special FBI counterintelligence program in 1982, also acknowleged he told Mrs. Ogorodnikov to give Soviet officials a description of Hunt which would constitute ″a dangle.″
Hunt has testified previously that he told her to tell the Soviets he was a heavy drinker and spent too much money.
The former agent said he met Mrs. Ogorodnikov almost every day for a week in August 1982.
He said the meetings were arranged after she told him that a Soviet consular official in San Francisco, Boris Belyakov, had called and suggested that she make a trip to Washington to confer with Soviet officials there.
″Isn’t it correct that during the meetings with Mrs. Ogorodnikov you would say things to encourage her to go?″ asked attorney Greg Stone, who represents her.
″I would say things to prepare her to go,″ Hunt said, insisting repeatedly that he did not order Mrs. Ogorodnikov to make the trip.
″Would you practice with her to see how she would answer questions?″ Stone asked.
″Yes, I did,″ Hunt said, but added he concluded after one such rehearsal that she would be unsuccessful in carrying out the FBI’s mission if she went to the embassy.
Stone focused his cross-examination on the close relationship between Hunt and Mrs. Ogorodnikov at a time when the agent says he was trying to develop her as an FBI informant and possibly a counterintelligence agent. Hunt denies she was ever signed as an FBI informant, but the defense contends she did work for the bureau.
The government contends Mrs. Ogorodnikov, 34, and her 51-year-old husband conspired in 1984 with another FBI agent, Richard W. Miller, to pass classified documents to the Soviet Union.
Miller is the first FBI agent ever charged with espionage.
Stone portrayed Hunt as the dominant figure in the relationship with Mrs. Ogorodnikov, giving her instructions on whether to go to the embassy and what to do when she got there.
Although Hunt said the decision on going to the embassy was made by Mrs. Ogorodnikov alone, he later testified: ″I indicated this would be of interest to the FBI if she went.″
″It’s my recollection I agreed with her decision,″ said Hunt. ″...I think I said after weighing all the options this would be the best thing to consider.″
Ultimately, Hunt said, the visit to Washington was postponed by Belyakov, but Hunt and Mrs. Ogorodnikov continued to meet on a regular basis.