Page last updated at 22:05 GMT, Thursday, 29 January 2009

US men charged in Russia spy case

Harold Nicholson (undated file photo handed out by the CIA)
Harold Nicholson is currently serving a 23-year sentence for espionage

A jailed ex-CIA agent and his son have been charged in the US with receiving money from and channeling information to his former Russian handlers.

Harold Nicholson, 58, is serving a 23-year term in Oregon for previous spying activities after pleading guilty in 1997 to selling secrets to Russia.

He is now accused of using his son Nathaniel to pass on new data between 2006 and 2008 in return for money.

Nathaniel was arrested on Thursday and the pair are to appear in court later.

Both father and son are charged with conspiracy, money laundering and conspiring to act as an agent of a foreign government.

Justice officials allege Nathaniel Nicholson, 24, visited his father in prison several times in order to obtain information to pass on to the Russians.

He then travelled to places including San Francisco, Mexico City, Lima and Cyprus to meet Russian representatives and receive payments of $35,593 (24,900), the officials say.

They believe the Russians thought his father still had useful information to divulge about how he had been caught and what the investigators had learnt about Russian spying practices.

Nathaniel is alleged then to have passed on the money to other family members, at the direction of his father.

'Sinister scheme'

Matthew Olsen, acting assistant attorney general for national security, said: "Today's indictment alleges that an imprisoned spy recruited and trained his own 24-year-old son to travel the globe to collect on past spying debts and channel information to foreign agents.

"These charges underscore the continuing threat posed by foreign intelligence services and should send a clear message to others who would consider selling out their country for money."

US Attorney for the District of Oregon Karin Immergut said the alleged acts showed "a sinister and continuing scheme by a former senior CIA officer turned spy to betray the United States of America for financial gain".

In 1997, Harold Nicholson pleaded guilty after being paid $300,000 to pass secrets to Russia. The information concerned young CIA recruits he was training and the identities of senior CIA officers.

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