A 33-year-old San Jose man who told an undercover FBI agent that he wanted to “burn the government” in retaliation for discharging him from the Air Force was arrested Monday and charged with attempting to give Soviet agents details of a classified reconnaissance program.
The man, a British-born naturalized American named Allen John Davies, was arrested at his job with a Palo Alto-based defense contractor by FBI agents posing as visitors. At the same time, other FBI agents were searching the San Jose town house he shared with his brother, Brian.
Federal officials said no classified information from Davies ever reached the Soviets.
According to an affidavit filed in federal court here by FBI Special Agent Roger B. Edstrom, Davies met last Sept. 22 with an undercover agent posing as an official of the Soviet Consulate here.
Although Davies worked for a defense contractor, Ford Aerospace & Communications Corp.'s Western Development Laboratories Division in Palo Alto, the material offered at the meeting, in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, was not connected to his current job, where he has no security clearance. Instead, it was gathered during Davies’ 10-year Air Force tour, where records show he worked as an electrical optical sensor systems specialist with a mid-level “secret” security clearance.
In 1984, while serving as a staff sergeant at the Rhein-Main Air Base in West Germany, Davies was forced out of the Air Force for “poor job performance,” government prosecutors said. This honorable but involuntary discharge was the motive for his brief and unsuccessful career as a spy, they added.
“He wanted to get back at the Air Force and do damage to the U.S. by giving classified information to the enemies of the U.S.,” U.S. Atty. Joseph P. Russoniello said at a press conference here.
Davies, as quoted in the affidavit, said he waited for two years after his discharge before approaching the Soviets “just to make sure they (the U.S. government) couldn’t link me with it.”
The affidavit also quotes Davies as saying his motive for giving away the data--no money was sought or offered--was that he “just wanted to burn the government.”
At his first court hearing Monday, before Magistrate Frederick J. Woelflen in U.S. District Court in San Francisco, Davies said sullenly, “I was kicked out of the Air Force,” and added without explanation that he owes the Air Force $1,200.
Russoniello and FBI Special Agent Pat Watson would not say how they found out that Davies had telephoned the Soviet Consulate to offer his information, which consisted chiefly of his own recollections rather than pirated documents.
For security reasons, they declined to say whether the FBI electronically eavesdrops on the consulate, a large building in the city’s most fashionable residential district, or taps its telephones.
However, it is widely believed that the consulate is kept under surveillance as an example of the FBI’s “spider web” counterintelligence tactic, in which the bureau closely watches areas where would-be spies might seek to contact foreign agents.
Just last week, the United States ordered 13 consulate employees out of the country as part of an exchange of diplomatic expulsions with the Soviet Union. U.S. officials suggested that all of the Soviets expelled from the consulate were engaged in spying.
Once Davies was identified as a security risk, a meeting was set up between him and an undercover FBI agent posing as a Soviet consular official identified variously as “Ivan” and “John.”
At that meeting, held in front of the Hall of Flowers in Golden Gate Park, a man identified as Davies said he had telephoned the Soviet Consulate to offer details about U.S. Air Force reconnaissance efforts.
“Davies provided detailed verbal information concerning a reconnaissance program of the USAF, which he said he had learned about through first-hand experience while serving in the USAF,” Edstrom said in an affidavit supporting the criminal complaint against Davies.
“Davies said he worked on this program in 1983 and 1984,” the affidavit continued. “Davies also provided the UCA (undercover agent) with a hand drawing depicting various aspects of the reconnaissance program.”
An Air Force official said that Davies worked on special high-resolution cameras and other reconnaissance equipment at the air base in West Germany during 1983 and 1984. The equipment probably was carried aloft by modified F-4 Phantom fighters rather than more sophisticated U-2 or SR-71 spy craft, he said.
According to the affidavit, at the meeting, Davies repeatedly acknowledged that his disclosures were against the law, but said he was doing so “out of revenge” and to “embarrass the U.S. and to interfere with the effectiveness of its reconnaissance activities.”
Davies was born Aug. 29, 1953, in Eastleigh, a small city near Portsmouth in southern England, according to the affidavit. He became a naturalized American citizen early in 1965, in San Jose. He still lives in San Jose, having purchased a town house there last year with his brother.
“The consensus . . . is that he is very quiet and keeps to himself,” said Tina Field, a saleswoman at the town-house development where Davies bought his $104,900 home.
Brian Davies said at his home last night that he and his family were “sort of shocked” by his brother’s arrest. “The way we found out was when a reporter called our father,” he said.
He declined to comment specifically about his brother’s alleged espionage. “I don’t know about it,” he said.
Early Monday afternoon, at least three FBI agents were seen leaving the home with a large box, three briefcases and a tool kit.
In his Air Force career, Davies served at Shaw Air Force Base in South Carolina, Kadena Air Base in Japan, Osan Air Base in Korea and Lowry Air Force Base in Colorado before transferring to Rhein-Main in West Germany.
Four months after his discharge in June, 1984, he joined Ford Aerospace & Communications Corp., where he worked as a laboratory technician testing various systems designed there, said Susan Pearce, director of public affairs.
David Szady, an FBI agent specializing in counterintelligence work in the Silicon Valley, said there is no indication that Davies had compromised any classified material from the Ford plant, which manufactures satellites and ground stations for civilian and military applications.
Mark A. Stein reported from San Francisco and Dan Morain from San Jose. Times staff writer Ronald J. Ostrow in Washington and researcher Norma Kaufman in San Francisco also contributed to this story.