Second U.S. Soldier Reportedly Helped Crack Spy Operation
FRANKFURT, West Germany (AP) _ The second former U.S. soldier implicated in a growing international spy scandal provided information that led investigators to crack the 10-year operation, a West German newspaper said Saturday.
West German prosecutors, meanwhile, said U.S. officials first informed the West Germans about the spy case a little more than two weeks ago.
The West Germany-based ring reportedly sold the Soviets secret information about NATO nuclear missiles, pipeline systems and troop strength. Prosecutors are predicting a lengthy inquiry to assess the damage to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
Former U.S. Army Sgt. Clyde Lee Conrad, who allegedly led the spy ring, remained in prison Saturday, facing espionage charges carrying a maximum 10- year sentence.
Conrad paid another U.S. soldier ″a five-figure sum″ for obtaining secret NATO information, said chief West German prosecutor Kurt Rebmann.
The Bonn-based Die Welt newspaper said the second soldier, whose name has not been released, provided ″the information that led to the arrest.″
″Die Welt has found out that no charges have been filed against the (second) American citizen, although he is still in the Federal Republic (West Germany),″ the conservative newspaper added. It did not elaborate.
Alexander Prechtel, spokesman for Rebmann, said he could not confirm or deny the report.
″The Americans first informed us about the suspicions against Conrad on Friday, Aug. 12,″ Prechtel told The Associated Press in a telephone interview.
He said U.S. investigators had been trailing Conrad long before then, but he said he did not know the source of the information that led investigators to suspect Conrad. West German officials arrested Conrad on Tuesday.
Although officials here say the second American was a soldier when he was recruited, The Washington Post quoted administration sources in Washington as saying he has since left the service.
Reports continued to emerge Saturday about Conrad’s lavish lifestyle.
Conrad’s neighbor, Johanna Horst, told the U.S. military’s unofficial newspaper Stars and Stripes that ″maybe there were a few people that were jealous because they had so much money and his son had everything.″
Mrs. Horst said that Conrad’s West German wife, Antje, ″had lots of gold jewelry and he just gave her a new car with her initials in gold.″
Stars and Stripes said its calculations showed Conrad’s monthly pension was $900.
The Bild newspaper of Hamburg said Conrad’s current apartment near the base was ″luxuriously furnished″ and that he received about $1 million for his espionage work.
CBS-TV quoted West German investigators Friday as saying Conrad may have kept the money in numbered Swiss bank accounts.
CBS said investigators found a picture of a European-wide operation, centered in Conrad’s home in West Germany, with other agents operating out of three neutral countries. It said they included an agent in Switzerland who handled money, two in Sweden who acted as couriers, and a Hungarian intelligence officer in Vienna, Austria, said to be Conrad’s controller.
Swiss prosecutors said Friday they launched an investigation into a possible Swiss connection.
In Molndal, Sweden, a district court on Friday arraigned two Hungarian-born Swedish brothers as suspected members of the spy ring.
West German officials said Friday that Conrad was in charge of storing and guarding classified documents in a safe at a U.S. Army base near his home in Bad Kreuznach.
U.S. Army officials said Conrad, of Sebring, Ohio, obtained a top secret security clearance 1978 and still had it when he left the service in 1985.
But an army spokesman acknowledged Conrad was not subjected to a follow-up background check usually given after five years.