FBI Arrests Third Family Member Accused of Passing Military Documents to Soviets
In the latest twist to the expanding probe of a reputed father-son spy team, FBI agents Wednesday night arrested a retired Navy lieutenant commander, the brother of the alleged ringleader, on charges of spying for the Soviet Union.
FBI Director William H. Webster said Arthur James Walker, 50, was arrested at his Virginia Beach, Va., home without incident. He is accused of transmitting to his brother, John A. Walker Jr., on April 28, 1982, classified documents and communications related to the national defense.
Arthur Walker handed over the documents in Chesapeake, Va., knowing that John Walker would deliver them to Soviet agents, according to a federal complaint issued late Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Norfolk, Va.
The newest defendant in the case, a 20-year Navy veteran who served on a series of submarines, retired in 1973, finishing his career as an anti-submarine warfare instructor, according to Pentagon records. He is now employed as an engineer with a defense-related contractor in Chesapeake, the FBI said.
An FBI spokesman said after the latest arrest that the investigation is continuing, and another source familiar with the case said an arrest of a non-family member is “a definite possibility.”
In a related development, a federal magistrate in Baltimore ruled earlier Wednesday that Michael Lance Walker, the 22-year-old sailor son of John Walker, must be held without bond pending trial on espionage charges.
Michael Walker delivered a total of about 20 pounds of classified Navy documents to his accused spy father on 10 separate occasions since last October, a federal prosecutor charged at the bail hearing.
Assistant U.S. Atty. Michael Schatzow said the sailor obtained the documents before his ship, the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier Nimitz, set sail from Norfolk for the Mediterranean in March.
The younger Walker was arrested aboard the Nimitz off Israel last week, and U.S. officials said they confiscated 15 pounds of classified documents hidden near his bunk.
Held Without Bail
Schatzow charged that the father tried to pass the 20 pounds of material to Aleksey G. Tkachenko, a vice consul in the Soviet Embassy’s consular section. Tkachenko was suddenly recalled to Moscow after John Walker’s arrest May 20.
U.S. Magistrate Daniel Klein Jr. agreed to the prosecutor’s request that the younger Walker, like his father, be held without bail, saying: “When you have overwhelming evidence against an individual, there is reason (he would want) to leave.”
According to a government source, the younger Walker has provided some cooperation in the FBI’s inquiry into the alleged spy ring headed by his father, but the elder Walker has not. Michael Walker’s court-appointed lawyer, Charles J. Bernstein, said he had no information on such cooperation and that his client would plead not guilty at his arraignment next Tuesday.
Schatzow’s new allegations in the fast-developing case did not appear to be covered in a federal grand jury’s six-count indictment of John and Michael Walker. The grand jury Tuesday charged that the pair sought to harm the nation’s interests by stealing military maps, sketches and other secret documents to pass to the Soviet Union.
A federal official, who spoke on the condition he not be identified, said Wednesday that the indictment was limited to the hardest evidence FBI agents have collected so far in an effort to reduce the amount of sensitive information the government has to reveal if the case goes to trial.
While the indictment was limited to activities since April, 1983, the official said, authorities are certain that the father’s alleged espionage began much earlier in his 21-year Navy career. John Walker retired in 1976 as a Navy communications specialist.