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U.S. spy sentenced to life for courting Iraq, China

©Associated Press

March 21, 2003


ALEXANDRIA, Va. -- A retired Air Force master sergeant was sentenced to life in prison without parole Thursday for offering to sell U.S. intelligence secrets to Iraq's Saddam Hussein and the Chinese government.

Lawyers for Brian Patrick Regan and prosecutors brokered the sentence, which was approved by U.S. District Judge Gerald Bruce Lee. As part of the agreement, the government promised not to prosecute Regan's wife, Anette, and allowed her to keep a portion of Regan's military pension.

Regan also agreed to tell the government about any classified information he may have given to other people or countries, and to submit to lie detector tests. His wife also agreed to cooperate.

Regan, 40, was convicted last month on two attempted espionage counts and a single charge of gathering national defense information. He was acquitted of attempting to spy for Libya.

Standing before Lee in a green prison jumpsuit, Regan apologized but said the penalty was too harsh.

"I feel a life sentence is excessive in my case," Regan said. "I never harmed anyone. I'm entering into this to protect my family."

Convicted spies Robert Hanssen and Aldrich H. Ames, also sentenced to life in prison without parole, were blamed for the deaths of at least 12 U.S. agents.

The judge said Regan deserved a stiff sentence.

"You betrayed your country's trust," Lee said. "There's no doubt that your attempted espionage put our nation's intelligence gathering at risk. You have joined the list of infamous spies."

U.S. Attorney Paul J. McNulty said it was important to impose a harsh sentence on someone who tried to sell sensitive information to an Iraqi government now at war with America. He said Regan committed "acts of betrayal and greed."

A married father of four from Bowie, Md., Regan worked at the National Reconnaissance Office, which operates the government's spy satellites. He first worked there for the Air Force, then as a civilian employee for TRW, a defense contractor.

Regan was arrested Aug. 23, 2001, at Dulles International Airport outside Washington while boarding a flight for Zurich, Switzerland.

He was carrying information with the coded coordinates of Iraqi and Chinese missile sites, the missiles that were stored there, and the dates the information was obtained, prosecutors said. He also had the addresses of the Chinese and Iraqi embassies in Switzerland and Austria in his wallet and tucked into his right shoe, according to prosecutors.

They said Regan wrote letters to Iraq and Libya offering to sell U.S. intelligence for $13-million. At the time, he had credit card debts of almost $117,000, the government said.

Defense lawyers said Regan might have fantasized about spying, but had no real intention of selling secrets.

His lawyers argued that the information he carried was easily available through public sources.

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