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Regan convicted of attempted espionage for Iraq, China

Acquitted of attempted spying for Libya

Regan was found guilty of two counts of attempted espionage.
Regan was found guilty of two counts of attempted espionage.

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• Superseding indictment: U.S. v. Regan external link
• Notice of intent Re: death penalty: U.S. v. Regan  (FindLaw, PDF)external link

ALEXANDRIA, Virginia (CNN) -- A retired Air Force master sergeant was convicted Thursday of offering to sell military secrets to Iraq and China, and jurors are now deciding whether to proceed to a death penalty phase of the trial.

After three days of deliberations, Brian Regan, 40, was found guilty of two counts of attempted espionage, related to attempts to sell information to Iraq and China, and one count of gathering national defense information. He was acquitted of attempting to provide U.S. secrets to Libya.

Jurors returned to deliberate whether the documents Regan attempted to sell to Iraq meet the criteria for the death penalty set out under federal law. If they answer 'yes' to that question, the trial will enter a penalty phase, with additional testimony, to determine his sentence.

The charges related to China did not carry death sentence.

Regan's trial marks the first time in nearly 50 years that a defendant in an espionage case is facing the death penalty. The last accused spies to be executed were Ethel and Julius Rosenberg, who went to the electric chair after being convicted in 1953 of stealing U.S. atomic secrets for the Soviet Union.

To proceed to a death penalty phase, jurors will have to find that the information Regan attempted to sell to Iraq involved nuclear weaponry, military satellites, early warning systems, means of defense or retaliation against large-scale attack, war plans, communications intelligence, cryptographic information "or any other major weapons system or major element of defense strategy."

Paul McNulty, the U.S. attorney for the eastern district of Virginia, hailed the verdict, saying it came "at an important moment in American history when our need to safeguard military secrets has never been more critical."

Defense attorney Nina Ginsberg said her client was acting out a fantasy and never intended to hurt the United States.
Defense attorney Nina Ginsberg said her client was acting out a fantasy and never intended to hurt the United States.

"This conviction demonstrates that traitors can and will be held accountable," McNulty said in a statement.

Prosecutors said Regan, a father of four who was arrested in August 2001, offered to sell secrets from the National Reconnaissance Office, which analyzes information from U.S. spy satellites, to Iraq, China and Libya for $13 million. He had run up $116,000 in credit card debt, according to prosecutors.

Investigators found letters from Regan to Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi on his home computer, and Regan was arrested with a notebook containing encrypted codes describing the location of a missile launcher in the northern no-fly zone of Iraq and another location in China, prosecutors said.

But Regan's attorney, Nina Ginsberg, said he was acting out a fantasy and never intended to hurt the United States. She said a real spy would not have sought so much money for so little information and pointed out that investigators never found 800 pages of CIA documents that his letters claimed that he had.


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