London — In an unexpected twist, the British government and military police find themselves in the dock after Britain's longest, largest, and most secret spy trial ended with the release of all seven accused. The trial arose out of allegations that seven servicemen, while monitoring a highly sensitive Royal Air Force listening post in Cyprus, allegedly handed over secrets ``by the bagful'' to the Soviets.
The men were said to have been compromised by alleged homosexual orgies.
The trial is the latest in a long series of British espionage scandals that have included such celebrated cases as Kim Philby, Guy Burgess, Donald Maclean, George Blake, and Sir Anthony Blunt.
That the servicemen were following in their footsteps by selling secrets and compromising NATO security was never established. That issue has been lost sight of in light of the furor over the way the case was handled.
The government, under fire from both Labour and Conservative members of Parliament, has called for a independent inquiry.
Public outrage has centered on charges made by the accused that they were obliged to make confessions under brutal interrogation.
One of the accused charged he was kept in a seven-foot cell and underwent 11 questioning sessions.
Another claimed he was made to shave three or four times until his face bled and his sight was affected after concentrated exposure to fluorescent lighting.
But the government is also embarrassed by the fact that despite the enormous length and expense of the trial -- it lasted nearly six months and cost almost 5 million ($70 million) -- the prosecution, according to experts here, prepared its case so ineptly.
There were flagrant errors in the prosecution case, such as a charge that a spy meeting had taken place in a building that had not yet been built at the time of the alleged rendezvous. The only hard evidence offered was three pieces of carbon paper found in the locker room of one of the accused.
The inquiry will almost certainly analyze the techniques used in interrogations and raise questions as to who made the decision to prosecute on the evidence of confessions alone, and who let the trial go ahead.
Soviets have broken 2 pacts, Weinberger tells NATO
US Defense Secretary Caspar W. Weinberger told the NATO defense ministers yesterday that the Soviets have violated both the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty and the unratified SALT II accord. West German Defense Minister Manfred W"orner told reporters Mr. Weinberger produced US intelligence pictures of SS-25 missiles in three locations in the Soviet Union.
Weinberger also showed US intelligence photographs of the Soviet Union's SS-20 medium-range nuclear missile and said 441 of the rockets were stationed across the USSR.
The SS-20 count is important because the Netherlands is due to announce Friday that it will deploy US nuclear missiles if the Soviet arsenal of SS-20s totals at least 378.
Weinberger has also charged that the Soviets are violating the ABM Treaty by building a new radar system in Siberia. Moscow has reportedly offered to cease construction of the radar (story, Page 9).
Weinberger's two-hour presentation opened two days of talks at NATO headquarters.
Soviet journalists to interview Reagan in US before summit
A group of Soviet journalists is to interview President Reagan in Washington before his November summit with Mikhail Gorbachev, a Soviet embassy spokesman said. The spokesman declined to say when the group would interview Mr. Reagan, but administration sources said it was likely to take place tomorrow or Friday.
Military ruler declared victor in Liberian vote
Liberian military ruler Samuel Doe was declared the victor yesterday in a presidential election which his opponents say was marred by intimidation and widespread irregularities. The Special Election Commission said Mr. Doe polled 51 percent of the vote. Doe seized power in a coup five years ago. The Oct. 15 poll was the first in Liberia's history to be based on one person, one vote.
Ex-aide to Rajneesh arrested in Germany on US warrant
Ma Anand Sheela, the former chief aide to Indian guru Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, was arrested on a US warrant charging her and two associates with twice attempting to murder the guru's personal physician, a West German prosecutor said yesterday. In Oregon, the congressman whose district includes the Rajneeshpuram commune said he is angry that Rajneesh seemed aware of the impending arrest. US Attorney Charles Turner in Portland said his office was investigating how the guru apparently learned he faced arrest.
The commune's president and other commune officials vowed that the city formed in 1982 by the sect on the former Big Muddy Ranch would remain intact despite the legal problems facing the guru and several Rajneeshee corporations.
Persistent hurricane slows Louisiana rescue attempts
Hurricane Juan moved inland over southeast Louisiana yesterday with 75 m.p.h. winds, driving floodwaters and toppling a third oil drilling rig, as the Coast Guard struggled to launch a second day of rescue efforts.
GIs face ousters for divulging drug use, homosexual activity
The Pentagon, despite earlier assurances to the contrary, says servicemen who acknowledge drug use or homosexual activity during screening for exposure to the disease AIDS can face discharge proceedings. The voluntary disclosure of such incriminating information cannot be used for courts-martial or to justify a less than honorable discharge. But it can be used as grounds to dismiss individuals ``for the convenience of the government'' with an honorable discharge, Pentagon lawyers said Monday.
Finding stolen Impressionists poses tough job for French
Police predict a long and difficult investigation into the broad-daylight armed theft of nine Impressionist paintings worth over $12 million. The Acad'emie des Beaux Arts, which oversees the Marmottan Museum, revealed Monday that none of the paintings stolen were insured, thus ruling out what one French expert said was one of the more common motives among art thieves -- extorting insurance money.
No paintings in French museums are insured unless they are lent to other museums, the Acad'emie said.
Reporters with the Prince feel some dampening ire
Prince Charles, at odds with the press over publication of off-the-record remarks, managed to douse his press corps as he switched on an ornamental fountain on the third day of his Australian tour. Assisted by high winds, the water arched 16 feet and came down on top of his accompanying press corps.
In Melbourne, a Buckingham Palace spokesman said some papers had broken the off-the-record convention for royal media receptions by carrying stories based on Sunday's gathering for the media shortly after the royal couple arrived.
British tabloids published stories Monday which said the Prince was angry that his views on recent inner-city riots had been misrepresented.
The stories quoted aides as saying the Prince felt betrayed by his architect adviser, Rod Hackney. Mr. Hackney told news organizations last week the Prince was concerned about reigning over a Britain divided into haves and have-nots.