Witnesses Testify About Whitworth’s ‘Unlimited’ Access to Navy Secrets
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) _ Witnesses in Jerry Whitworth’s spy trial said he had unlimited access to codes and secrets and sometimes placed Navy documents in his briefcase before he went home.
Eight Navy witnesses gave jurors a vivid portrait Tuesday of the communications hub of battleships and nuclear aircraft carriers where classified messages flow by the thousands and people like Whitworth, a former Navy radioman with top secret clearance, see all of them.
Gary Haraldson, a senior radioman who served aboard the nuclear carrier USS Enterprise with Whitworth, said they both monitored coded message traffic in 1982. ″I had unlimited access to everything,″ he said, adding that Whitworth did, too.
Whitworth, 46, of Davis, is accused of selling secrets to the Soviet Union for $332,000 in a conspiracy that began in 1974. The 13 charges against him include seven espionage and conspiracy counts that carry potential life sentences. He also is charged with tax evasion.
A woman testified Tuesday that she saw Whitworth place Navy documents in his briefcase each day before he left the heavily secured Naval Telecommunications Center at Alameda.
Karen Barnett, 23, who was a 17-year-old sailor when she worked for Whitworth, said she couldn’t see whether the documents were classified.
Another witness, Frank Olea, said Whitworth used to leave with his briefcase at lunchtime and go to a van, saying he was going to take a nap. The government claims he used these naptimes in the van to photograph classified documents for John A. Walker Jr., the confessed spymaster who was selling secrets to the Soviets.
Other witnesses said they also saw Whitworth carry a briefcase in and out of the communications center, but most said they didn’t consider that unusual.
Ms. Barnett said she was in charge of routing messages at the center in 1980 and 1982, when Whitworth was chief there.
Defense attorney James Larson fought unsuccessfully to strike Ms. Barnett’s testimony as irrelevant, then focused on the animosity between the witness and Whitworth.
She agreed that she didn’t like him and said, ″I think most everybody thought that he felt he was better than the rest of us.″
″And this was because he was a stickler for details and insisted on following the book on details?″ asked Larson.
″Yes, I guess so,″ said Ms. Barnett.