Navy seaman Michael Lance Walker, part of a father-son team accused of spying for the Soviet Union, arrived at Andrews Air Force Base yesterday and was turned over to FBI agents investigating the case.
Walker, 22, who was arrested Wednesday on board the USS Nimitz in Haifa, Israel, returned to the United States about 2:30 p.m. yesterday on a Navy C-9 transport plane that left Friday from Tel Aviv and stopped overnight in Rota, Spain.
Walker and his father, retired Navy communications specialist John Anthony Walker Jr., were arrested last week on charges of passing secrets to the Soviet Union.
As a bevy of reporters and camera crews watched from a distance, Michael Walker, wearing a white shirt and blue pants, his wrists handcuffed in front of him, was escorted down the back steps of the plane by agents of the Naval Investigative Service.
He was met on the ramp by FBI agents who displayed identification, then surrounded Walker and led him to the back seat of one of six waiting cars. Earlier, agents carried from the plane an orange plastic bag, a clear plastic bag, a duffel bag and two suitbags.
Walker, who entered the Navy in 1982 and had been serving on the Nimitz since January 1984, was taken to the FBI's Baltimore office yesterday afternoon. FBI spokesmen would not say where he would be held before his scheduled hearing before a federal magistrate in Baltimore Tuesday.
"The whole bureau is not making any comment," said Baltimore FBI spokesman Rosemary Viscini.
His father, 47, is being held without bond in the Baltimore city jail pending a preliminary hearing Wednesday in Baltimore federal court.
John Walker, a Norfolk private detective who retired from the Navy in 1976 after a 21-year career, was arrested Monday at a Rockville motel after FBI agents allegedly observed him drop a shopping bag filled with 129 classified documents -- including some from the Nimitz -- in a wooded area in western Montgomery County. A Soviet national observed near the alleged "drop site" has left the country, official sources said.
Michael Walker, assigned to the ship's operations office, had access to the "burn bag" of secret documents on board the Nimitz, according to Navy sources. They said the "burn bag" might have contained information about the movements of U.S. and Soviet ships in the Mediterranean.
Acquaintances who knew Michael Walker from his school days in Norfolk said the young man adored his father and would do anything to please him. Michael Walker "really respected his father. That was obvious," said Robert Bastian, 21, a former classmate.
He recalled one incident when Michael Walker lost his usual calm and panicked when his father's van, borrowed for a camping trip, broke down. Michael was apparently worried that his father would be displeased.
"When his grades would come in, he was afraid his dad would yell at him," Bastian said.
Bill Abourjilie, 20, another former classmate, said that Michael Walker "would probably do anything his dad asked him . . . . He wasn't worried about anyone else, he was just worried about pleasing his father."
Michael graduated in 1982 from Ryan High School, a small college-preparatory school, where he spent his junior and senior years.
He joined the soccer team, maintained grades of mostly Cs, and struck up friendships with students who shared his love of the beach and surfing.
His crowd was "maybe a little bit freer than some of the others, but you wouldn't have labeled him a bad kid," said Bastian, who works in the school office.
"Everybody's looking for this real unusual guy who kept to himself a lot," said Chris Rumsey, a close friend of Walker's. "He was just a regular guy, that's what's so weird."
Sources familiar with other espionage cases say that this is the first one they can remember that involves a father and a son.
"There have been a lot of husband-and-wife cases, like the Rosenbergs," said George A. Carver Jr., a former CIA official. "But I can't recall a particular father-and-son case."
Meanwhile, a Norfolk woman said she has told the FBI that she may have unwittingly participated in dropping off documents to the Soviets. According to a story in yesterday's Virginian-Pilot in Norfolk, R.K. Puma told the FBI that she dropped off a bag that she believed was full of trash for Walker at a site in Rockville, Md., in 1977 for $500.
Puma said she deposited the plastic bag by a utility pole some time after midnight after following a complicated series of instructions that Walker gave her along with photographs of designated sites in the area. She said that she made the drop after looking for two soda cans along the side of the road, and was to signal each sighting by saying over her CB radio, "This is mobile 1, proceed to the accident scene." If she received no return message, she said she was to continue.
Puma said she went along with the plan to humor Walker, who employed her as an apartment house manager, dismissing it then as "one of the goofiest kinds of come-ons that I've ever heard." She said she kept the photographs and the instructions and turned them over to the FBI on Friday.
While the two Walkers remain in custody, other members of the family remained silent in the glare of publicity that has descended upon them since the senior Walker's arrest. The media attention intensified with the FBI's disclosure that more arrests of Americans are expected in the case.
FBI officials said last week that they are questioning relatives and associates of John Walker.
Rita Walker, the wife of Walker's brother, retired Navy lieutenant commander Arthur Walker, declined to respond to questions yesterday. "We're not making any comments," she said from the doorway of her ranch-style home in Virginia Beach.
Barbara Joy Crowley Walker, the ex-wife of accused spy John Walker and the mother of Michael Walker, could not be located. Navy sources say she turned in her former husband.
The couple's daughter, Cynthia Walker, 25, who lives in West Dennis, Mass., said yesterday she had not been in contact with her mother. "I lead a simple life trying to make ends meet," she said. "I don't need to be bothered by this. I don't know anything."
In Norfolk, FBI agents kept watch over John Walker's two-story brick home at 8524 Old Ocean View Rd. The house has been cordoned off by yellow tape that says: "Police Line-Do Not Cross."
FBI agents used sledgehammers Friday in an unsuccessful search for explosive devices that they feared might have been planted by Walker as a booby-trap. At one point during the day, agents ordered neighbors to evacuate their homes so they wouldn't be hurt if there was an explosion. But nothing was found, officials said.
According to an affidavit filed in federal court, FBI agents who searched Walker's home after his arrest Monday found correspondence from his son Michael bragging about having been named "Sailor of the Month" and describing the "hundred pounds" of materials that he had collected from the Nimitz.
Last week FBI officials said agents are searching for bank accounts or money caches because they believed that John Walker was allegedly passing information to the Soviets "for financial gain."
According to a divorce agreement filed in state circuit court in Norfolk, John and Barbara Walker owned property and businesses in Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia when they were divorced in 1976.
After he retired from the U.S. Navy on July 31, 1976, Walker went into business with his brother Arthur, now 50, operating a Virginia Beach electronics firm called Walker Enterprises, according to court records of a lawsuit against the company.
In the late 1970s, Walker went to work as a detective for Wackenhut Corp., court papers show. Then, about four years ago, Walker started his own private investigating firms: Confidential Reports, Electronic De-Bugging and Associated Detectives. All are located in the same office in a Virginia Beach office building.