A former Huges Aircraft Co. engineer charged with espionage has told the FBI he photographed secret documents with a special camera provided by Polish agents and was promised nearly $100,000 a year in gold and cash for his work.
William Holden Bell, 61, confessed his involvement when confronted by an FBI investigator last week and allowed federal agents to wire him so a conversation with his Polish contact Sunday could be recorded, according to an FBI affidavit released today.
Although a Hughes spokesman has called this the first arrest of a company employe for espionage, FBI agents have complained of a concerted effort by Soviet bloc agents to buy information from U.S. defense contractor employes. Employes caught in the act have all confessed to selling secret and classified information for money, rather than for ideological commitment to communism.
The affidavit indicates Bell photographed a number of documents of "secret" and "classified" but not "top secret" category while working at Hughes' Radar systems group in El Segundo. An FBI spokesman said the agency assumes the Polish agent who received the information eventually turned it over to the Soviet Union.
Bell was arraigned and bail was set at $50,000 after his attorney argued that he had been cooperating with the investigation and had his wife and children in the area. U.S. Magistrate James J. Penne restricted him to Los Angeles and neighboring Orange County and told him to stay away from airports.
Also arraigned but denied bail was Marian W. Zacharski, Bell's Polish contact, who has been working here as an employe of a Polish company carrying on trade with the United States.
Bell told FBI investigators he met Zacharski in late 1977 or early 1978 at a fashionable condominium apartment complex called Playa del Rey where both men lived with their families. The two men "developed a friendship," the affidavit by agent George S. Bacon said. Bell said "at that time he was having some financial difficulties and Zacharski told him he might be able to assist him in getting out of those difficulties."
Other Hughes employes have said Bell had divorced his first wife and married his second wife, Rita, whom they described as an airline stewardess with two children of her own.
Bacon said Bell told him "he only obtained unclassified material in the beginning but realized when he took a payment from Zacharski he would be in a compromising situation and would be required to obtain othe documents of higher classifications."
Bell said he received initial payments of $5,000 and $7,000 while meeting Zacharski at Playa del Rey. Neighbors said the two were frequent tennis partners and often sat together watching their children play in the apartment pool.
Bell told investigators he made three trips to Austria and one trip to Switzerland since November, 1979, to meet other Polish agents.
In his first trip to Austria, Bell said, three people approached him and said "Aren't you a friend of Marian?" which Zacharski had told him would be the signal. He said he gave them four rolls of film and was told he would be paid $3,000 a month in cash plus a lump sum of $60,000 a year which he was later told would be in gold coin.
The affidavit lists some of the documents Bell said he gave to the Polish agent: "Low Probability of Intercept Radar Phase I, Final Report," "Covert All Weather Gun System (CAWGS), Vol. II-Technical Proposal," Covert All Weather Gun System (CAWGS), Technology Demonstration Program, Vol. II, Technical Proposal" and "Dual Purpose Weapon System (DPWS), Study Effort."
These documents were "secret."
Bell, who the FBI said received more than $110,000, and Zacharski were arrested Sunday.