A military policeman stationed in Alaska has been formally charged with attempted espionage by military prosecutors, who say he handed over unclassified national defense information to a contact he believed was a foreign intelligence agent.
The formal charges filed Monday against Army Spc. William Millay, assigned to Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson near Anchorage, offer the first glimpse of the government's case against the 22-year-old soldier, who was arrested last week.
The Army statement released Monday suggests there was no actual contact between Millay and a foreign government, nor was any sensitive information handed over. Rather, Millay appears to have been caught by investigators, likely with the help of an informant, dealing with someone the young policeman purportedly believed was a foreign agent.
"It was because of the close coordination between the Army and other agencies [including the Federal Bureau of Investigation] that he was observed and apprehended before any damage could occur," Army spokesman Lt. Col. William Coppernoll said in an interview.
According to the Army's statement on the charges, Millay transmitted "unclassified national defense information" to an individual he believed was a foreign intelligence agent with the intent of aiding a foreign nation.
The information he had gained was gleaned both in the course of his normal duties as a military policeman in the United States and on a previous deployment, the Army said. Millay served one combat tour of duty in Iraq, from December 2009 to July 2010, as part of the 164th Military Police Company, 793rd Military Police Battalion, 2nd Engineer Brigade.
Millay also is charged with failing to report "multiple contacts" with the person he believed to be a foreign agent and with making false statements to Army counterintelligence officers regarding those contacts. Another charge: soliciting a fellow service member to obtain classified information and "tangible items" for the purpose of delivering them to the foreign agent.
Millay's lawyer, Kenneth P. Karns, said he had not had a chance to study the charges in detail, but said he has talked with Millay about the case.
"I found him to be as his friends described him, a simple young kid from Kentucky, who loves his country and has followed in his brother's footsteps in joining the Army," Karns told The Times. "The charges sound far worse than what I think anyone who knows him would say he's capable of doing."
-- Kim Murphy in Seattle
Photo: Specialist William Colton Millay. Credit: U.S. Army