WASHINGTON — Former nuclear scientist Wen Ho Lee has broken his plea agreement by failing to help FBI agents recover classified computer tapes he stole from Los Alamos National Laboratory. But instead of refiling dropped charges against him, federal prosecutors are pumping his wife for clues to the missing tapes, WorldNetDaily has learned.
U.S. attorneys have granted Sylvia Lee, who also worked at Los Alamos, limited immunity from prosecution in exchange for information about the tapes.
But China-born Lee, once a Chinese spy suspect herself, maintains she told federal prosecutors and FBI agents in an Aug. 7 meeting that she hasn’t seen the tapes, which contain vital nuclear secrets.
“They asking me, do I see those tapes,” she said in a deposition taken last month by Judicial Watch Inc. General Counsel Larry Klayman. “I say I never.”
“The government is still looking for the tapes that Dr. Lee hasn’t accounted for?” Klayman asked.
“Yes,” Lee replied.
Wen Ho Lee
The sworn deposition was part of a defamation suit filed by Notra Trulock, the former Energy Department counterintelligence chief who originally put Lee on a list of Chinese spy suspects who might have provided the communist state with design secrets of the Trident missile’s nuclear warhead, the W-88, the most powerful modern weapon in the U.S. strategic arsenal. Trulock takes issue with Lee’s public claims that he was motivated by racism in singling Lee out for investigation.
Lee was caught downloading from a secret lab computer network so-called legacy codes covering the entire history of the U.S. nuclear-weapons program – including large volumes of bomb-testing data used in developing nuclear weapons through computer simulations. The codes are considered extremely valuable to China. He then copied them onto 10 portable computer tapes.
Six of them are still missing.
Lee was released Sept. 13, 2000, after nine months in solitary confinement, on his guilty plea to a single felony count of mishandling classified information. He acknowledged copying secrets onto tapes and removing them from Los Alamos.
The U.S. government dropped 58 other charges – including injuring the U.S., aiding a foreign nation and violating the Atomic Energy Act, which could have brought a life sentence – and gave him immunity from prosecution provided that he tell authorities what he did with the tapes and cooperate in ongoing espionage investigations.
But despite intensive debriefing by the FBI, Lee has
not adequately explained why he copied the files to
the tapes and what he did with the tapes. The tapes
remain missing. Authorities don’t buy his innocent
claim, first made on CBS’ “60 Minutes,” that he copied
the information to back up his work, because numerous
measures had been built into Los Alamos’ computing
system to protect against file loss. Lab physicists,
moreover, testified that there was no legitimate
reason for one scientist to have made backups of the
entire library of source codes, since they normally
work on just one small piece at a time. Authorities
also say Lee’s claim he tossed the missing tapes in a
trash bin behind his office at Los Alamos didn’t check
out. And why toss those, yet keep the others?
Under the terms of his plea deal, Lee agreed to disclose such information within one year, or face new charges and possibly more jail time.
That year expired Sept. 13, a milestone that was lost in the fury over the terrorist attacks.
Instead of putting the screws to Lee – who is busy suing the government for privacy invasion – prosecutors have massaged his wife for information.
Terms of the immunity deal with Sylvia Lee are not known. Klayman asked for a copy of the immunity letter, but so far has not received it from the Justice Department or Lee’s attorney, Brian Sun, says Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton.
Calls to the Justice Department and FBI were not immediately returned.
Last year’s plea bargain shocked many U.S. intelligence officials, because it let Lee out of jail without first obtaining solid leads on the whereabouts of the missing tapes – which, if in the wrong hands, including those of Islamic terrorists, could gravely harm national security.
The deal also turned loose a key suspect in the Chinese espionage investigation. With sympathetic coverage from the Washington Post, Lee has been, for all practical purposes, exonerated – at least in the eyes of the national media, if not the public.
“Still to this day, we have no one held accountable for transfers of nuclear secrets to China,” Fitton lamented. “And now we’re begging Wen Ho Lee’s wife for information – further proving not only the incompetence of the federal government, but the ongoing cover-up of their incompetence.”