A retired decorated Air Force sergeant who worked as a civilian at the super-secret office that builds and operates U.S. spy satellites was held Friday on espionage charges.
Brian P. Regan, 38, appeared in federal court a day after federal authorities took him into custody as he was passing through a security checkpoint to take a Lufthansa flight to Zurich via Germany.
Regan is charged with conspiracy to commit espionage. Prosecutors would not identify the country involved, but a government source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said it was Libya.
"Mr. Regan conspired to transmit classified U.S. national defense information to a person or persons he knew was working for a foreign government with the intent to aid that foreign government and bring injury to United States," said U.S. Atty. Kenneth Melson.
Regan, a native of Brooklyn, N.Y., had received a number of military honors, including one for distinguished service involving his work as an intelligence analyst after Iraq's 1990 invasion of Kuwait.
The arrest came not long after federal prosecutors negotiated a plea bargain with Robert Hanssen, who pleaded guilty to several counts of spying over several years for Russia. Melson said he knew of no connection between the cases.
Regan appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Welton Sewell, who asked if he had a lawyer.
"No, your honor," Regan replied in a barely audible voice.
"Are you in a position to hire counsel?" Sewell asked.
"No," Regan replied.
The judge advised him he could have a court-appointed lawyer.
Prosecutors asked that Regan be held without bond, and a combined detention and preliminary hearing was set for Wednesday. Prosecutors said the maximum sentence for the charges were life in prison or, in certain cases, the death penalty, and a $250,000 fine.