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GI Imprisoned for Espionage in Gulf War

TIMES STAFF WRITER

In the first known spy case connected with Operation Desert Storm, an Army artilleryman has been convicted of espionage after admitting that he sold troop deployment information and samples of chemical warfare protection suits to Iraqi and Jordanian diplomats, Pentagon officials said Tuesday.

Army officials said that Specialist Albert T. Sombolay, a naturalized American from Zaire, was sentenced to 34 years in prison July 17 on charges of espionage and contacting the enemy. Pentagon spokesman Pete Williams said that the court-martial was kept secret until investigators could determine that Sombolay acted alone.

Officials declined to say how the investigation was initiated but said that during questioning, the 40-year-old soldier, who was stationed in Germany, admitted approaching Iraq’s and Jordan’s embassies in Germany and Belgium in December, 1990, just weeks before allied aircraft began a six-week air bombardment of Iraq. He admitted offering to provide military information once his unit was deployed to Saudi Arabia.

Sombolay provided a Jordanian intelligence officer with samples of U.S. Army chemical protection equipment and Saudi deployment information, and he offered to photograph his unit’s activities in Saudi Arabia, officials said.

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In return, he received $1,300, defense officials said. They said he appeared to have been motivated strictly by financial gain.

The soldier was arrested on March 29 after he left his post at Bad Kreuznach and met with an undercover investigator. He has been serving his sentence at the Ft. Leavenworth disciplinary barracks since Nov. 14. He was arrested March 29.

Pentagon officials indicated that Sombolay’s cooperation with the enemy did not affect the allied war effort since he did not have a security clearance.

“He did not deploy with his unit to Saudi Arabia, and all information indicates that he acted alone,” Williams said.

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