Agency Sent Messages to Spy Suspect Through Classified Ads
NEW YORK (AP) _ The FBI sent coded messages last summer in classified ads in the Los Angeles Times trying to arrange meetings with a man now suspected of being part of a Navy spy ring, according to a published report.
The ads were addressed to ″RUS,″ a code name the Federal Bureau of Investigation says was used by Jerry A. Whitworth, a retired Navy radioman charged with passing secret Navy documents to the Soviet Union, The New York Times reported in today’s editions.
″RUS″ had sent two letters to the San Francisco FBI office offering to expose a 20-year-old spy ring in exchange for anonymity and immunity from prosecution, the newspaper said.
The Times said the FBI placed three ads in the Los Angeles Times’ personal column on Mondays last summer, but ″RUS″ never responded and no meeting ever took place.
Finally ″RUS″ sent a third and last letter rescinding his offer to provide information.
Authorities said they were able to identify Whitworth as ″RUS″ through documents found in the home of John A. Walker Jr., a retired Navy communications specialist accused of being the head of the spy ring.
Whitworth has pleaded innocent and his lawyers have denied he was ″RUS″ or was involved in the alleged spy operation.
Walker, who has been described as Whitworth’s closest friend, also has pleaded innocent. His brother Arthur was convicted last week of espionage and faces life in prison. His son, Michael Walker, also has been charged in the case and has pleaded not guilty.