Defense Official in Chinese Spy Case Freed on Bond
Friday, February 15, 2008; Page A02
A Defense Department official charged in a Chinese espionage scheme was ordered released yesterday on $100,000 bond, but the brief detention hearing shed no light on the case against the weapons policy analyst.
Prosecutors agreed that Gregg W. Bergersen could return to his home in the Alexandria section of Fairfax County to await trial on espionage charges. He will be monitored electronically and forced to surrender his passport.
Bergersen, 51, was charged Monday with passing classified documents and information to a Chinese contact, who then gave the material to the Chinese government. The documents included a list of projected U.S. military sales to Taiwan for the next five years, court records say. China and Taiwan are adversaries, with China insisting that Taiwan must be reunited with the mainland.
The case has triggered international repercussions. Taiwan set up a task force to investigate possible damage to its security, and the Chinese Foreign Ministry yesterday called U.S. allegations of Chinese spying "totally groundless" and a vestige of "Cold War thinking."
Bergersen's attorney, Ross Nabatoff, has declined to comment, as have Defense officials. A lawyer for Bergersen's alleged Chinese contact, Tai Shen Kuo, has not been appointed. Kuo, 58, of New Orleans is also charged with espionage, as is Yu Xin Kang, 33, of New Orleans.
Federal officials are trying to determine how much damage Bergersen, an employee with the Defense Security Cooperation Agency in Arlington County, might have done to national security. Officials have made it clear that his case is not comparable to the spy cases of Aldrich H. Ames or Robert P. Hanssen.
It is not known what might have prompted Bergersen to meet with Kuo, as court documents say he did, every few months at restaurants in Northern Virginia and also in Las Vegas and Charleston, S.C. Law enforcement officials pointed to a possible financial motive: Bergersen was allegedly paid for his information and had discussed going into business with Kuo after he left government employment.
Officials also are unsure whether Bergersen realized that the information he was charged with providing would go to China.
The case comes at a time of growing concern over what federal officials describe as a stepped-up Chinese effort to obtain U.S. military and trade secrets. The Justice Department recently launched a large-scale "counter-proliferation initiative'' and has brought an increasing number of cases targeting Chinese efforts to acquire military technology, including night-vision equipment and devices used to develop smart bombs and missiles.
Staff writer Maureen Fan and the Associated Press contributed to this report.