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Former Los Alamos Scientist Wen Ho Lee Reaches Plea Agreement With Prosecutors

Aired September 11, 2000 - 1:10 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: And now to New Mexico, where the nuclear scientist once dubbed a clear and present danger to the national security of the United States could leave jail a free man sometime today. Wen Ho Lee has reached a plea agreement with federal prosecutors, who as recently as last week were opposing his release on bail.

CNN's Tony Clark joins us from Albuquerque to tell us how all of this came about -- Tony.

TONY CLARK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Natalie, it all now appears, as you say, to be coming to an end, something that began a couple of years ago, looking into allegations that nuclear secrets were being passed to the Chinese.

Wen Ho Lee's attorneys arrived here a short time ago. Earlier this morning, cars from the U.S. Marshals Service brought Lee here from the Santa Fe correctional facility where he has been held in solitary confinement since his arrest in December.

The 60-year-old Taiwan-born mechanical engineer was charged originally with 59 counts of illegally downloading nuclear secrets onto a computer tape, unsecure computer tapes, 10 of those tapes. Only three have since been found. The seven are still missing.

The government has now agreed with the defense. They are agreeing Wen Ho Lee will plead guilty to one felony count of illegally mishandling -- if you can -- there's an ambulance going by me now -- he will plead guilty to illegally downloading some material and then he will be set free, sentenced only to time served. His neighbors in his White Rock neighborhood have already put out flags, "welcome home" signs. They accept -- expect to greet him with a big "welcome home" party later this afternoon.

Tony Clark, CNN, Albuquerque, New Mexico -- Natalie.

ALLEN: Thanks, Tony.

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