A civilian naval intelligence analyst and grandson of the Navy's foremost historian has been arrested by the FBI and charged with providing classified U.S. satellite photographs of a new Soviet aircraft carrier to a British military magazine.
Samuel Loring Morison, 40, was arrested Monday night at Dulles International Airport as he was about to board a plane for England and charged with unauthorized disclosure of three photographs showing the nuclear-powered carrier under construction in a Soviet shipyard on the Black Sea.
According to the FBI and the Naval Investigative Service, Morison took the photographs from his office at the Naval Intelligence Support Center in Suitland last summer and sold them to Jane's Defence Weekly, a newly established magazine published in London by the company that produces a series of authoritative books on the world's naval, air and ground defenses that often are based on classified information.
After pictures of the new carrier were published in the magazine Aug. 7, they were distributed by wire services and appeared in many newspapers, including The Washington Post.
The leaked photographs were said by Pentagon sources yesterday to have caused concern in the "highest reaches of the government." Defense Secretary Caspar W. Weinberger was described as extremely upset at the time the pictures were published, not so much because of the pictures themselves but because of the information-collection capabilities they demonstrated.
Morison -- whose grandfather, the late Samuel Eliot Morison, was awarded the rank of rear admiral for a distinguished writing career that included the official history of the Navy during World War II -- lives in Crofton, Md., where he was described by neighbors as a quiet, scholarly man with an apartment full of books.
His arrest coincided almost to the hour with the arrest in New York Monday of an East German woman charged by the FBI with violating U.S. espionage laws by attempting to pass classified information to the Soviet Union. The two cases are unrelated, agents said.
Two women accompanying Morison at the time of his arrest were questioned by agents but released, the FBI said.
According to a court affidavit, the three satellite photographs of the Soviet aircraft carrier disappeared in late July from the desk of one of Morison's colleagues.
When the pictures were published a week later, U.S. authorities obtained the original prints in London and "positively identified a latent fingerprint which appeared on the glossy side of one of the . . . photographs as that of Samuel Loring Morison," according to the affidavit.
Next, FBI experts seized the ribbon cartridge from Morison's office electric typewriter, transcribed the typings on the ribbon and found correspondence in which Morison told Jane's editors he would be sending them various "items" of interest, the affidavit said.
Morison, who the FBI said earned $5,000 a year as a part-time editor of Jane's publications, also described his naval office as a "pit," according to the affidavit, and indicated he wanted to work full time for the British publisher. "My loyalty to Jane's is above question," he said, according to the affidavit. "I'd rather quit here than there."
Members of Morison's family said yesterday he had an early interest in naval matters, apparently acquired from his historian grandfather. He also "was a heavy spender," said Edward D.W. Spingarn, an uncle by marriage who lives in Washington. "He liked to take friends out and entertain lavishly."
Morison was being held in Alexandria pending a removal hearing Oct. 11 on his transfer to Maryland. Bail was set at $500,000.