Testimony is to begin today in the espionage trial of Svetlana and Nikolai Ogorodnikov, and if last week's opening arguments are an accurate gauge, the court reporter's product will read more like a spy novel than a trial transcript.
The Ogorodnikovs emigrated from the Soviet Union in 1973 and were arrested last October along with FBI agent Richard W. Miller. All three were charged with conspiring to pass secret government documents to the Soviets; Miller's trial will begin after this one is over.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard B. Kendall said that, after the Ogorodnikovs became disenchanted with life in the United States, their "stateless immigrant" status left them little hope of going home. He contended that they began to work for the KGB -- the Soviet intelligence agency -- as "utility agents," hoping to earn their return.
Defense attorney Brad A. Brian said he would not dispute the prosecution's contention that Miller and Svetlana Ogorodnikova had an affair. But, he said, "Svetlana was an informant of the FBI long before she met Mr. Miller" and was manipulated by the FBI.
The Ogorodnikovs allegedly took pictures of anti-Soviet demonstrations and located Soviet defectors for the KGB to harass. In return, they "enjoyed certain favors," Kendall said, including trips home.
Svetlana Ogorodnikova came to the FBI's attention in February 1980. She had several meetings with John Hunt, now retired from the bureau, sometimes promising to act as his informant, sometimes backing away. During this time, Kendall said, she told the KGB that she had a boyfriend in the FBI.
Ogorodnikova gave Hunt some useful information about the consulate, Kendall said, but was cut off in January 1983 when she became "erratic" and began an "aggressive sexual pursuit" of Hunt.
That left her desperate to produce an "FBI boyfriend" for her KGB handlers, Kendall said, and last May, she met Miller, a 17-year FBI veteran.
Miller, the father of eight children who lived with his family only on weekends, had "serious financial problems . . . [and was] sexually promiscuous." He was, Kendall said, "bitter, unhappy. A classic target for KGB recruitment."
Randy Sue Pollock, a federal public defender representing Nikolai Ogorodnikov, said he "led a very separate life" from his wife's: "He wasn't aware of what she was doing, who she was seeing."