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CIA Official: Leaked Photos Did No Damage

October 16, 1985

BALTIMORE (AP) _ A CIA employee who helped design a U.S. spy satellite testified at an espionage trial that publication of three photographs taken by the satellite in no way damaged U.S. security.

Roland S. Inlow, a CIA employee for 28 years, said when he saw the photographs of the Soviet Navy’s first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier under construction at a Black Sea shipyard in the Aug. 13, 1984, edition of Aviation Week, he assumed the government had released them.

″I was somewhat surprised at that,″ Inlow said Tuesday at the trial of Samuel Loring Morison, a former Naval intelligence analyst charged with espionage and theft of government property.

″But my reaction was much more ‘ho-hum’ than ’Oh my God 3/8‴ Inlow said. ″In my opinion, the release of these photographs would cause no damage or injury to the United States.″

Inlow, as chairman of the inter-agency Committee on Imagery Requirements and Exploitation, coordinated activities of the U.S. intelligence community before he retired in 1979.

Morison is charged with espionage for releasing the photographs, a classified secret. He also is accused of theft of the photos and theft of government documents that described a May 1984 explosion at Severomosk, the main ammunition depot for the Soviet Union’s Northern fleet.

″The Soviet Union is very aware of the satellite and its characteristics, its capabilities″ and could have covered its work to prevent the United States from photographing the carrier, Inlow said.

The satellite operating manual, prepared by Inlow’s CIA Office of Strategic Research, was sold to a Soviet agent in 1978 by a former CIA official, William Kampiles. Kampiles was convicted of espionage and sentenced in 1978 to 40 years in prison.

Morison, a part-time editor for the British military journal Jane’s Defence Weekly while he worked full time at the Naval Intelligence Support Center in Suitland, has admitted giving the photographs to Jane’s, but says he is innocent of espionage and theft.

The photographs were published by Jane’s on Aug. 11, 1984.

Other photographs from the same satellite were published in an Iranian student publication four years earlier. The students obtained the photos from a U.S. helicopter that crashed during a failed attempt to rescue 50 Americans being held hostage in Iran in 1980.

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