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Former spy's son pleads guilty to conspiracy

  • Story Highlights
  • Nathaniel Nicholson pleads guilty in espionage case
  • Nicholson and his father, Harold "Jim" Nicholson spied for Russia, prosecutors say
  • Jim Nicholson is highest-ranking CIA officer ever convicted of espionage
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(CNN) -- The son of an infamous CIA double agent pleaded guilty to spying, federal authorities said Thursday.

Nathaniel Nicholson pleaded guilty in federal court in Portland, Oregon, to charges of conspiracy to act as an agent of a foreign government and conspiracy to commit money laundering, according to a Department of Justice statement.

He will face more than 20 years in prison when he is sentenced in January. Nicholson worked with his father, Harold James "Jim" Nicholson, and Russian officials on spy operations, authorities said.

Harold Nicholson received a 23-year sentence after pleading guilty in 1997 to spying for Russia. He is the highest-ranking CIA officer ever convicted of espionage.

After being imprisoned, the elder Nicholson enlisted his son to collect money owed him by the Russian spy services and to sell more secrets, prosecutors said.

Nathaniel Nicholson made trips to Cyprus, Mexico and Peru, where he met with Russian government representatives who gave him more than $35,000 in cash, prosecutors said.

"In his guilty plea today, Nathaniel Nicholson acknowledged his role in the ongoing conspiracy with his father to collect money from the Russian federation for his father's past espionage activity," said acting U.S. Attorney Kent S. Robinson.

Harold Nicholson also has been charged with the new espionage allegations and has pleaded not guilty.

"Despite imprisonment, convicted spy Harold Nicholson was able to profit from his previous acts of espionage by continuing to collect money from the Russian federation through his son, Nathaniel James Nicholson," said Executive Assistant Director Arthur M. Cummings II of the FBI National Security Division.

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