Ex-FBI Man Tells of a ‘James Bond Fantasy’ at Trial
Former FBI agent Richard W. Miller testified Thursday that he became involved in a sexual affair with a Soviet woman because he had “a James Bond fantasy” and believed that if he infiltrated Soviet intelligence, “I’d come out a hero.”
Testifying for a third day at the espionage trial of his Soviet co-defendants, Miller insisted that he never thought about whether he might be compromised and recruited as a spy as a result of his liaison with Svetlana Ogorodnikova.
“I didn’t consider the consequences, or I probably wouldn’t have done it,” Miller said.
However, he said he had hoped to win Ogorodnikova’s sympathy and persuade her to introduce him to high-ranking Soviet officials.
“I wanted to improve my status among my fellow employees,” said Miller, who had earlier told of being disciplined for being overweight and for his undistinguished work in the agency’s foreign counterintelligence division.
‘Virtual Gold Mine’
“I thought maybe I could accomplish something that hadn’t been accomplished before: to infiltrate a Soviet intelligence service,” Miller said. “And my vehicle for doing that would be someone with contacts in the Soviet Consulate.”
He said he saw Ogorodnikova as “a virtual gold mine” of such contacts, as well as “an attractive woman, who was charming and easy to talk to.”
Of his plan, he said: “If I could pull it off, I’d come out a hero.”
Instead, Miller became the first FBI agent ever charged with espionage.
Asked by Assistant U.S. Atty. Bruce Merritt whether the sexual relationship was part of his scheme, Miller replied, “It just sort of came with the territory. I had a kind of James Bond fantasy. The sex was that part.”
“You identify with James Bond, do you?” the prosecutor asked.
“That’s a bad analogy,” the pudgy Miller said, “because James Bond I’m not.”
However, he said he had a secret plan to gain the confidence of his lover and convince her that “I was vulnerable.”
Merritt asked if Miller meant that he wanted Ogorodnikova to think that he could be recruited for the Soviets. At first, Miller said yes, but then qualified his response to say all he meant was that he wanted her to introduce him to people in the Soviet Consulate.
The government contends Miller agreed to pass classified documents to the Soviet Union for $65,000 in cash and gold and suggests his chief motivation was money.
Earlier, U.S. District Judge David Kenyon questioned, but declined to dismiss, four jurors who said they had heard a comment by Defense Secretary Caspar W. Weinberger. Weinberger said Wednesday that convicted spies “should be shot, although I suppose hanging is the preferred method.”
Currently, the maximum penalty for espionage during peacetime is life in prison.
All four jurors said they would not be affected by what they had heard.
One of the jurors said, “I thought it was a pretty irresponsible remark for a person in his (Weinberger’s) position.”
Defense attorney Greg Stone, representing Ogorodnikova, said he believed Weinberger’s remark was prejudicial and any juror who heard it should be dismissed.
Attorneys for Miller also said it was prejudicial, but neither they nor the defendants’ lawyers moved for dismissal of jurors after the judge concluded questioning.
Kenyon said he will instruct jurors to avoid reading any reports involving spy cases, including the current coverage of the Walker family espionage charges in Washington. John A. Walker Jr., his son, brother and a friend have been charged with stealing Navy secrets and selling them to Soviet agents. Weinberger was commenting on that case when he made his remarks Wednesday.
On another matter, Kenyon ruled Thursday that attorneys for Ogorodnikova and her husband, Nikolai, will be allowed to see a report on the FBI’s interview with Miller’s psychiatrist.
However, he did not immediately rule on whether the information would be admissible at the trial.
He said Congress has left up to federal judges the decision on whether to honor a defense claim of patient-doctor privilege.
However, Kenyon said he was concerned about the behavior of federal officers who interviewed psychotherapist Dr. Joan Glad. He said he would rule separately on the issue if it comes up in Miller’s trial, which is to follow.
The defense insists that the FBI should never have talked to Miller’s therapist.
“It is Mr. Miller’s right of confidentiality that is the touchstone here,” attorney Stanley Greenberg said.
However, attorneys for the Ogorodnikovs argued that they cannot get a fair trial unless the defense knows what the therapist told the FBI about Miller, who came to her for treatment of obesity and other problems.
Glad filed an affidavit in court saying she was pressured into talking by agents, who assured her that she had no right to refuse to tell them about Miller’s psychiatric history.
The defense contends that there is a privilege of confidentiality between psychotherapist and patient that is recognized in all state courts, although it is not stated in federal law.
Miller, 48, admitted Wednesday on the witness stand that his affair with Ogorodnikova was “a stupid thing to do.”