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'Falcon and the Snowman' figure released from prison

©Associated Press
March 15, 2003

SAN FRANCISCO -- Christopher Boyce, whose Cold War spying was immortalized on film in The Falcon and the Snowman, was released Friday after about a quarter-century in prison.

Boyce was released from a halfway house about 4 a.m., the U.S. Bureau of Prisons said. He will be on parole until 2046, his original release date.

Boyce was 22 when his father, a former FBI agent, helped him land a summer job as a clerk at TRW Inc. in Redondo Beach, where he had access to classified communications with CIA headquarters in Langley, Va.

He smuggled documents home and sold them to the Russian Embassy in Mexico City, taking in about $77,000 before he and childhood friend Andrew Daulton Lee, his courier, were caught in 1976.

Both were convicted of espionage. Lee was paroled in 1998.

"Sometimes I think when you're young, you crave danger or are willing to put yourself in dangerous positions," Boyce told the Los Angeles Times this month. "But I had never gotten into any trouble in my life that I couldn't get out of. My father was in a position that could keep me out of a whole lot of trouble."

Boyce, who turned 50 last month, successfully made his case to the U.S. Parole Commission in 1997 for early release. After spending half his life at prisons across the country, he moved into a halfway house in San Francisco last fall. He married a woman he met while fighting for parole.

Boyce made headlines in 1980 when he escaped from federal prison in Lompoc. He was free for 19 months, supporting himself by robbing banks in the Pacific Northwest, before he was arrested in Port Angeles, Wash.

The 1985 release of the movie The Falcon and the Snowman, starring Timothy Hutton as Boyce, who loved falconry, and Sean Penn as Lee, nicknamed Snowman for his drug problems, brought both convicts notoriety.

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