Bloch Surveillance Data OKd for Hearing : State Dept. Can Use Information in Move to Fire Suspected Spy
The State Department today won the right to use evidence gathered through electronic surveillance in proceedings to dismiss suspected spy Felix S. Bloch from the Foreign Service.
A federal judge said in an order released today that the electronic surveillances were conducted lawfully under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.
U.S. District Judge Stanley Harris rejected a contention by Bloch’s attorneys that the surveillances were illegal and could not be used in the State Department dismissal hearing.
The proceeding had been scheduled to begin last week but was postponed pending court action on the case.
While not charged with any crime, Bloch has been suspected by the FBI of selling secrets to the Soviet Union when he was posted in Europe as a diplomat, most recently at the U.S. Embassy in Vienna.
Bloch, a 30-year veteran of the diplomatic corps, was placed on administrative leave last June after the investigation began.
On Feb. 8, the State Department said it had suspended Bloch’s annual salary of $80,700 and would seek to dismiss him from the Foreign Service.
The FBI conducted extensive surveillance of Bloch last summer while the case was under active investigation.
The surveillance ended late last year after the bureau decided it was unlikely it could prove that Bloch passed classified information to the Soviet Union, according to law enforcement sources.