An Arlington man yesterday filed a breach of contract suit against the Central Intelligence Agency and the State Department, claiming he was recruited by the government as a spy in 1975, but never was paid for his espionage services.
Hamza Simrick, a 50-year-old clothing designer and native of Mauritius, a tiny, strategically located resort island in the Indian Ocean east of Madagascar, said in court papers he was contracted by the government in June 1975 to set up a necktie business on the island as a "cover" for CIA agents and to provide information to the agency.
The suit, filed in U.S. District Court, in Alexandria, asks for $219,000 in back salary, moving costs and expenses as well as losses incurred in running the necktie business.
CIA spokesman Dale Peterson said yesterday, "We have no comment since the case is in litigation." A State Department spokesman said he was unaware of the suit.
According to Simrick's attorney, Thomas H. Dameron of Alexandria, the agency refused to settle the case out of court after nearly three years of legal wrangling.
Simrick and his lawyer both declined to elaborate.
A strong Soviet presence and the location of crucial oil transportation routes from the Mideast have made the Indian Ocean an area of intense interest to the United States in recent years.
Mauritius, like the tiny island of Diego Garcia, the site of a key U.S. communications outpost, is regarded as one of the few available monitoring locations in the region, and intelligence operatives using "commercial cover" to disguise their activities there are not uncommon.
The period Simrick said was covered by his contract coincided with the time of increased sensitivity for the CIA touched off by release of the Rockefeller Commission report on illegal domestic spying by the agency.
In June 1975 the court papers state, Simrick entered into a contract with the CIA and the State Department to set up the necktie business on his native island.
Simrick was to have been paid $5,000 as a retainer fee and $20,000 a year as salary. According to Simrick's attorney, the clothing designer and his family moved from the Washington area to Mauritius to start the business.
In addition to running the covert operation, Simrick was to provide CIA and State Department employes with "identification badges" -- letters of introduction to local authorities, the court papers said.
While Simrick was to have provided "a meeting place" for CIA operatives, the agency in turn contracted to buy all of Simrick's merchandise produced in Mauritius "at the fair market rate" and was expected to support the necktie business financially, according to the lawsuit. The CIA and State Department also contracted to pay Simrick's moving and resettling costs, the paper said.
Simrick set up two companies, his lawyer said yesterday. "Le Baron" was located on the island of Mauritius, while a U.S. distributing company, "Le Sega Exclusive Neckwear," was established in south Arlington.
According to the lawsuit, Simrick kept his part of the deal during 1975 and early 1976, carrying out his espionage duties while manufacturing neckties. But in September 1976 -- after repeated demands for money were ignored by the two government agencies -- Simrick said he closed shop and moved back to the United States.
The CIA and the State Department, Simrick claimed in the lawsuit, "have refused to pay anything and in fact have paid nothing."
Yesterday, in his business office at 574 S. 23rd St., Arlington, Simrick was reticent about discussing the case. "It's a long story," he said. "At this stage, it's still too raw."
Simrick, a slight, dark-skinned man who said he holds a master's degree in government from London City College, said, "We all, at one time or another, have spied for our government."
Born and raised on the island of Mauritius -- "Where East Meets West," according to a travel brochure -- Simrick said he now is a U.S. citizen.
The island, with its 100 miles of white sand beach, is a popular resort for Europeans and tourists winding up East-african safaris.
Asked why the American government would be interested in the 720-square mile island, Simrick replied, "When you have a country like the United States, no island is unimportant to them. No rock, either."
Although he declined to say what specific information he provided to the two U.S. agencies, Simrick indicated that his work involved strategic nuclear weapons locations as well as movements of foreign governments arms shipments.