E. Howard Hunt, the convicted Watergate burglar, yesterday claimed that an article he wrote for the Central Intelligence Agency about Soviet espionage activities appeared largely 'unaltered in the New York Times under the by-line of its foreign affairs columnist.
Hunt, a former CIA officer, confirmed a report in a forthcoming issue of More magazine that a column on the newspaper's editorial page Sept. 13, 1967, under the by-line of C. L. Sulzberger was "75 per cent unchanged" from an article he wrote at the request of former CIA Directror Richard Helms.
The Sulzberger column reported that 107 Soviet intelligence agents had been uncovered posing as journalists, diplomats and commercial agents between March 1966 and April 1967. Without attributing the information to the CIA or any other source, the column detailed more than a dozen specific examples of spies found working under various covers. "The overt cold war has eased - but not its covert counterpart," the column concluded.
The New York Times yesterday refused to comment on Hunt's aliegations, and efforts to reach Su'zberger were unsuccessful. After conferring with executive editor A. M. Rosenthal, a spokesman referred to two articles about relationships between the CIA and news organizations that the Times published last week. "We have nothing to say further than that," the spokesman said.
In one of the articles, Sulzberger acknowledged a close professional and personal relationship with various top CIA officers. But he dismissed an accusation by author Carl Bernstein that he had once published "almost verbatim" under his by-line a report prepared for him by the CIA as "a lot of baloney."
Bernstein, a former Washington Post reporter who helped break the Watergate story, is now a freelance writer. His Rolling Stone article did not mention Hunt.
The Hunt allegations were first raised by More, a monthly journalism magazine, and later confirmed by Hunt in an interview at his home in Miami.
In its October issue, More says Helms gave Hunt information about Soviet syping prepared by Howard J. Osborn, the CIA's chief of security, and asked him to write an article. "When the director called me up and says, 'I've got a couple of files here. I want you to do a story about 800 words and I'll try it out on Cy Sulzberger,' I do it," Hunt told More.
Osborn, now retired from the CIA, said the column "has the ring of truth to it. This would be the type of thing I would report to Helms on."