Agent testifies against accused spy

A former National Security Agency employee accused of selling secrets to the Soviet Union told federal agents that the KGB picked him clean of information in debriefings in 1980 and '83, an FBI agent testified yesterday. Agent David Faulkner, testifying in the spy trial of Ronald W. Pelton, said Pelton described the debriefings to the Federal Bureau of Investigation the day before his arrest.

Pelton declined to give details of the information about his career at the NSA, Agent Faulkner said. But the FBI agent said Pelton told him he thought the KGB ``had taken everything from me that I had to that point,'' in 1983.

Tape recordings admitted into evidence Tuesday, the first day of the trial, indicated that Pelton telephoned Soviet officials at the embassy in Washington and arranged a night meeting to sell them secrets about US spying on Russia.

The tapes of the telephone calls on Jan. 14-15, 1980, were played to the jury but not to reporters covering the trial.

Assistant US Attorney John Douglass said in his opening argument Tuesday that he would seek to prove that from 1980 to '85, Pelton tried to escape bankruptcy by selling Moscow secrets from a 14-year career at the NSA.

The agency intercepts and deciphers communications by foreign governments.

Pelton, who quit the NSA in 1979, is accused of accepting $35,000 for the secrets.

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