A retired FBI agent testified Thursday that he used a Soviet woman in a "dangle" operation, an attempt to convince Soviet officials that he was available for espionage work.
Under cross-examination in the Los Angeles federal court spy trial of Svetlana and Nikolai Ogorodnikov on espionage charges, John Hunt admitted that he knew the term "dangle" meant "to make a person appear that he was malleable for espionage work."
The former agent, who was head of a special FBI counterintelligence program in 1982, also acknowledged that he told Svetlana Ogorodnikova to provide Soviet officials a description of him that would constitute "a dangle."
Hunt has testified previously that he told Ogorodnikova to tell the Soviets that he was a heavy drinker and spent too much money.
The former agent said he met Ogorodnikova almost every day for a week in August, 1982. He said the meetings were arranged after she told him that a Soviet consular official in San Francisco, Boris Belyakov, had called and suggested that she make a trip to Washington to confer with Soviet officials there.
"Isn't it correct that during the meetings with Mrs. Ogorodnikov you would say things to encourage her to go?" the woman's attorney, Greg Stone, asked.
"I would say things to prepare her to go," Hunt responded, insisting repeatedly that he did not order Ogorodnikova to make the trip.
"Would you practice with her to see how she would answer questions?" Stone asked.
"Yes, I did," Hunt said, adding that after one such rehearsal, he concluded that she would be unsuccessful in carrying out the FBI's mission if she went to the embassy.
Stone focused his cross-examination on the close relationship between Hunt and Ogorodnikova at a time when the agent said he was trying to develop her as an FBI informant and possibly a counterintelligence agent. Hunt denies that she was ever signed as an FBI informant, but the defense contends the defendant did work for the bureau.
The government contends Ogorodnikova, 34, and her 51-year-old husband conspired in 1984 with another FBI agent, Richard W. Miller, to pass classified documents to the Soviet Union.
Miller, the first FBI agent ever charged with espionage, will stand trial after the Soviet couple.