Ronald L. Humphrey, the former United States Information Agency employe accused of spying for Vietnam, yestereay admitted that he gave confidential State Department documents to a Vietnamese antiwar lobbyist because of his desperate love for his Vietnamese common-law-wife and her five children, who were trapped by the Communists in Vietnam.
Humphrey testified for more than six hours in U.S. District Court in Alexandria about how his love for Kim caused him to lose his judgment and give the classified documents to Vietnamese expatriate David Truong, who is accused of espionage and conspiracy along with Humphrey.
"I had one preoccupation and that was to get them out of Vietnam. I knew I owed my life to Kim . . . I felt that whatever I was doing in life wouldn't be fulfilled unless I got that family."
As his parents, Kim and four of her children watched, Humphrey testified that the documents he took from his United States Information Agency office were not meant as abribe to get Hanoi officials to release his family.
He testified that he thought the documents might help Trucing Ond others loobby on Capitol Hill to help normalize relations between the U.S. and Vietnam. If this occured, Humphrey said he felt he would have a better chance to get his family releaseD.
Humphrey testified throughout the seventh day of the Vietnamese espionage trial before Judge Albret V. Bryan Jr. that he meant to help the United States, not injure national security by giving the classified documents to Truong. Government prosecutors contend that Humphrey attempted to give the Vietnames an edge in negotiations with the U.S. in return for securing the releas of Kim and her children.
The government has also contended throughout the unprecedented trial - the first Vietnamese espionage case - that Truong is a foreign agent working for Hanoi and that Humphrey knew it when he passed him the diplomatic cables.
Humphrey is charged with stealing the documents and giving them to Truong. Truong is accused of delivering the documents to a courier who gave them to Vietnamese officials in Paris.
Humphrey spoke articulately yesterday with little expression in his voice or on his face.
Occasionally he flashed a weak smile at his family, sitting in the front row.
Humphrey denied being a Communist, denied knowing whether Truong was a foreign agent, and denied giving Truong the four cables classified as "Secret" that the government said he stole. Those were the only four cables classified as secret among the evidence against Humphrey.
Humphrey denied giving Truong 31 other cables that the government has introuduced as evidence against him. he admitted giving Truong four other cables and said he "might have" passed Truong 67 other.
State Department and Defense Intelligence Agency employes testified in support of the government's charge last week that the more than 100 diplomatic cables, airgrams and other documents allegedly passed to the Vietnamese had inured the national security by being revealed to the Communists.
Defense attorneys, however, have claimed the cables were only "diplomatic chit chat" and were not related the national security. Humphrey said as much yesterday.
Humphrey testified that the information he gave Truong was a "rehash" of publicly known information. "To the best of my knowledge, just above everything I gave him had been sourced to (revealed in) some publication - newspapers, magazines, wire service," Humphrey testified.
Humphrey began his testimony yesterday by recounting for more than an hour how he met 24-year-old Nguyen Thi Chieu, or Kim, in 1969, when he was sent to Vietnam as a foreign service officer. Kim had been widowed at the age of 19 and was left with three children. Humphrey testified. Shortly afterward she met an American and "fell in love." She had two children by that man, but he deserted her, Humphrey said.
Humphrey said he lived next door to Kim in 1969 and at first they were just friends. But soon, "I began to fall in love with them," meaning Kim and her children.
During 1970, Kim tipped him off to an impending attack by the Vietcong. This saved his life, Humphrey testified.
"Don't worry about me, worry about the VC (Vietcong)," Humphrey testified that Kim told him. "They know you're coming and they're waiting by the bridge." Two South Vietnamese soldiers went on the mission anyway, Humphrey said, and were blown up by a land mine.
"From that day on I was going to be alive, rather than something in a rice paddy," Humphrey testified. "I'm alive today because of her."
On July 25, 1971, Humphrey said he arrived in Germany and began the process of securing an exit visa for Kim and the children. Humphrey testified that he paid a $3,000 bribe to Vietnamese officials before Kim was released.
Two years after her release, Kim returned to Vietnam to try to get her children out. She was unsuccessful, Humphrey said.
"Why was she unsuccessful?" Asked Humphrey's attorney, Warren L. Miller.
"They wanted sexual favors from Kim before they would let the children out," Humphrey replied, his head bowed and hands clasped in his lap.
While he and Kim were living in Germany in April 1975 they decided that the Saigon regime wouldn't last much longer and had better hurry to get the children out of Vietnam. Kim went ahead, but "things fell apart so fast the commercial flights stopped before I could get there," Humphrey said.
After several days, "It became apparent they wouldn't get out," Humphrey said.
Humphrey said he then began his two-year fight to release the family by writing letters to congressmen, senators, peace advocates and others.
Following intervention by the Swedish and German governments, Kim was released on July 25, 1977, Humphrey testified, but then learned from immigration officials that Kim had tuberculosis. After that, she did poorly in an interview with an immigration official because she couldn't speak or understand English Humphrey said.
At this point, Judge Bryans said, "We've been going on with this for an hour and a quarter. et's get on with the merits of the case."
Humphrey said that he met Truong while trying to rescue Kim and her family from Vietnam. He said he was under the impression Truong had influential friends on Capitol Hill who might be able to help him. Truong suggested a "Mr. Nam" in Vietnam who could probably help, Humphrey said. They began a friendship and often met to discuss Humphrey's family and Troung's desires to start an import-export business between the U.S. and Vietnam, Humphrey testified.
"I began clipping things in newspapers, teletype, if it had anything that had not been made public or something I thought he did not know about," Humphrey said.
Humphrey testified that he cut off the labels on the documents he took from the SIA that identified their security classification. "It wasn't the right thing to do," Humphrey said. "But I didn't want him to stroll up on Capitol Hill and drop the classified documents on some senator's desk." Humphrey said he didn't consider what he was doing a crime, but a security violation. "I thought it was merely leaking. He would give it to his friends on Capitol Hill."