- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 23, 2002

A federal judge yesterday ordered a June trial date for a retired Air Force sergeant facing the death penalty on charges of seeking to sell U.S. secrets to three foreign governments.
U.S. District Judge Gerald Bruce Lee in Alexandria set a June 3 date for Brian P. Regan, an order that surprised prosecutors and defense attorneys who had expected trial in the case to begin in November.
During a procedure hearing yesterday, Nina J. Ginsberg, the court-appointed attorney named to represent Mr. Regan, called the ruling unfair, saying the defense could not be prepared for trial in a capital case without at least five months to examine documents and other evidence.
"The United States is trying to kill Mr. Regan," she said, adding that it is "virtually impossible" to assemble mitigating material to defend Mr. Regan in five or six months.
Prosecutors had proposed a Nov. 12 trial in court papers filed last week announcing they intended to seek the death penalty.
"My trial date is June 3," Judge Lee said yesterday, adding that he would hold hearings May 13 and May 20 to discuss the handling of classified material. In February, Judge Lee scheduled a tentative trial date of May 20. He said he would reschedule if the government sought the death penalty, but gave no alternative date.
Mr. Regan, 39, a government contractor at the highly secret National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), has pleaded not guilty. Accused of attempting to spy for Iraq, Libya and China, he is charged with conspiracy to commit espionage in exchange for a $13 million fee.
In seeking the death penalty, U.S. Attorney Paul J. McNulty said Mr. Regan, a Bowie resident, offered his services in letters to Iraq's Saddam Hussein and Libya's Moammar Gadhafi, saying he was "willing to commit espionage against the United States" by providing highly classified information.
Mr. McNulty argued that a sentence of death was justified because Mr. Regan "knowingly created a grave risk of substantial danger to the national security." He accused the former sergeant of "exceptional planning and premeditation" in plotting his espionage.
He also said Mr. Regan used the threat of the death penalty as a "marketing tool" when he demanded $13 million in Swiss currency from Saddam.
According to the indictment, Mr. Regan said in his letters that $13 million was "a small price to pay to have someone within the heart of a U.S. intelligence agency providing you with vital secrets." The indictment said he offered for $1 million to give Iraq a sample of the intelligence data he could provide.
The government said Mr. Regan had access to classified information at the NRO, which designs, builds and operates spy satellites, and that he "conspired to transmit classified U.S. national defense information to a person or persons he knew were working for a foreign government."
Prosecutors said Mr. Regan began his espionage activities shortly after his retirement from the service in August 2000. An FBI affidavit said he was trained in cryptanalysis and his responsibilities included administering the Intelink Web site, a classified government computer system accessible only to certain members of the intelligence community.
They said Mr. Regan sought to transfer classified documents, including secret electronic images, a CIA intelligence report and documents related to a foreign country's satellite capability.

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