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FBI and Justice Department Staunchly Defend Lee Prosecution in Senate HearingAired September 26, 2000 - 2:09 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 Capitol Hill, where the Wen Ho Lee affair is the focus. Senators are grilling top law enforcement officials, including Janet Reno and Louis Freeh, about the government's case against the former Los Alamos nuclear scientist. Lee was held in solitary confinement for nine months before agreeing to a plea bargain.
Justice correspondent Pierre Thomas is following the hearings. He joins us now -- Pierre.
PIERRE THOMAS, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Natalie, no apologies today from the Justice Department or the FBI. In fact, the attorney general and the FBI director went out of their way to defend the prosecution of Wen Ho Lee.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JANET RENO, ATTORNEY GENERAL: Doctor Lee is no hero. He is not an absent-minded professor. He is a felon. He committed a very serious, calculated crime and he pled guilty to it.
LOUIS FREEH, FBI DIRECTOR: Over a period of years, he used an elaborate scheme to move the equivalent -- as you've heard today, twice -- 400,000 pages of extremely sensitive nuclear weapons files from a secure part of the computer system to an unclassified, unsecure part of the system.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
THOMAS: Freeh said it became more important to find out why Lee did this, rather than giving him a lengthy jail time -- Natalie.
ALLEN: Any new evidence presented at this hearing today?
THOMAS: Well, Freeh, essentially, went through what would have been the government's case today. He talked about, for example, that Wen Ho Lee downloaded this material over 40 hours over 70 days -- that's seven with a zero, 70 days. Freeh, again, trying to make the case that this was a cold, calculated attempt by Wen Ho Lee to get information and they want to know why.
ALLEN: Well, and clearly the government still has problems with this case, Pierre. THOMAS: Well, even with all of this evidence that the government laid out today, there was still one essential problem in their case. They had no evidence that Wen Ho Lee gave this information about the downloaded nuclear information to anyone. That was a serious flaw in their case.
ALLEN: Pierre Thomas in Washington today.
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