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Retired Air Force Sergeant Regan Accused of Stealing Secret Data

By Robert L. Jackson
LOS ANGELES TIMES

WASHINGTON

A retired Air Force master sergeant working for a government contractor was charged with conspiring to commit espionage Friday for stealing classified data from a super-secret federal agency that designs and operates the nation’s spy satellites.

Brian P. Regan, 38, did not immediately respond to the charges during an appearance in U.S. District Court in nearby Alexandria, Va., a day after his arrest by FBI agents as he attempted to board a flight for Europe. He was held without bond pending another court hearing next week.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Welton Sewell said he would appoint an attorney for Regan after the defendant said he had no lawyer. Regan, who was not handcuffed, was dressed casually in a striped polo short and dark green slacks.

Prosecutors would not disclose the country for which Regan allegedly conspired to spy, although sources said it was not Russia. Nor did prosecutors allege any motive for espionage except to say Regan had accumulated consumer debts of $53,000.

Law enforcement sources who requested anonymity said initial assessment indicate the damage allegedly caused by Regan was far less extensive than that caused by FBI spy Robert P. Hanssen, who confessed last month that he spied for Russia for nearly 20 years in return for $1.4 million in cash, diamonds and Rolex watches.

Hanssen provided Moscow with information about U.S. early warning systems, satellites, nuclear defenses and communications intelligence. He also confirmed the identity of some Russian agents working for the United States.

Regan, according to a 21-page affidavit filed in court, chiefly stole computer documents from the National Reconnaissance Office, where he worked. The documents were labeled “secret,” which is not the highest classification, and dealt with electronic images from overhead satellites, classified pages from a CIA newsletter, and portions of a CIA intelligence report, according to FBI agent Steven A. Carr.

Other purloined documents, Carr’s affidavit said, related to “a foreign country’s satellite capability” and the “unclassified” table of contents for an otherwise “top secret” intelligence manual.

Authorities, however, were not minimizing Regan’s alleged criminality, especially in view of his 20-year Air Force career, including an award for distinguished service as an intelligence analyst following the 1990 Iraqi invasion of Kuwait.