A 23-year-old Marine corporal stationed in Yuma, Ariz., has been arrested on suspicion of attempted espionage, Navy officials said Thursday. The incident involved national defense matters unrelated to the Persian Gulf War, the officials said.
Charles Lee Francis Anzalone, a field telephone wire specialist assigned to the Marine Corps Air Station in Yuma, was arrested Feb. 13 by Naval Investigative Service agents after a four-month joint investigation with the FBI.
During that time, Anzalone had contacted a person he believed was a foreign intelligence officer. Anzalone, however, reached only a decoy.
"Any case dealing with the national defense and espionage is significant," said Mike Bourke, assistant regional director for criminal matters with NIS, the investigative arm of the Navy. "We were fortunate that he did not make contact with a hostile intelligence officer. And the investigation, to date, shows no connection to the government of Iraq."
Bourke declined to name the country whose representative Anzalone believed he was reaching or other details of the case. Anzalone, who is assigned to Marine Wing Support Squadron 371, is currently in the Camp Pendleton brig, where he was taken after his arrest.
Anzalone, of Jamestown, N.Y., could remain in the brig up to 90 days awaiting a military trial. Meanwhile, NIS agents are continuing their investigation, though it is not believed that other Marines are involved, Bourke said.
At the conclusion of the investigation, a report will be submitted to Marine Corps officials who will determine the exact charges to be levied against Anzalone.
NIS launched its investigation after being contacted by an FBI informant. Anzalone's case is the first Marine espionage case since the scandal involving Sgt. Clayton J. Lonetree, a former guard at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow.
Lonetree was convicted of spying in 1987, the first Marine in the 212-year history of the Corps found guilty of espionage in a highly publicized kiss-and-tell incident. Lonetree had been charged after he voluntarily told U.S. intelligence agents of his sexual affair with a translator at the Moscow embassy.
He was accused of stealing sensitive documents and passing secrets to the KGB in Moscow and Vienna while stationed as a guard at those embassies between 1984 and 1986. A court-martial jury found the St. Paul, Minn., native guilty of 13 counts of espionage, larceny and conspiracy.