The lawyer for alleged spy Arthur James Walker said yesterday that his client wants to distance himself legally from his younger brother, alleged spy ringleader John Anthony Walker Jr.

"We're going to have to start separating John Walker from Arthur Walker," Samuel Meekins, one of two court-appointed lawyers representing Arthur Walker, told newsmen. "I don't know what John did but Arthur is in a different ball game."

Arthur Walker, 50, pleaded not guilty to seven espionage counts yesterday in federal court in Norfolk, while another alleged member of the spy network, retired Navy radioman Jerry Alfred Whitworth, pleaded not guilty to one espionage charge in federal court in San Francisco.

Meanwhile, lawyers for Whitworth and John Walker said that press accounts of the spy case have inflamed public opinion and made it difficult to for their clients to receive a fair trial.

In a motion filed yesterday in U.S. District Court in Baltimore, John Walker's lawyer, federal public defender Fred Warren Bennett, asked that espionage charges against his client be dropped because "prejudicial information pertaining to this case was 'leaked' to the press by 'government sources,' " and said that "unrelenting" publicity may have prejudiced the federal grand jury that indicted John Walker on May 28.

Bennett asked U.S. District Court Judge Alexander Harvey II to hold a hearing on whether preindictment publicity had affected the grand jury.

In San Francisco, a lawyer for Whitworth, who is accused of receiving $328,000 in return for divulging national secrets, complained after yesterday's arraignment that "rather hysterical statements" about breaches of military security, and recent calls for reinstatement of the death penalty for espionage, "taint the atmosphere in which this case will be tried and make it difficult to get a fair trial."

John Walker, 47, a retired Navy warrant officer, and his son, seaman Michael Lance Walker, 22, previously pleaded not guilty to espionage charges.

Bennett, who also represents Michael Walker, filed another motion yesterday that suggests John Walker may have made incriminating statements to the FBI. Bennett's motion said that soon after his arrest May 20, Walker "may have made statements or admissions concerning events relevant to this case," and that such statements were obtained in violation of his right to counsel and his right against self-incrimination.

Bennett was not available for comment. Michael Schatzow, an assistant U.S. attorney in Baltimore who is handling the case, declined comment about whether Walker told FBI agents anything after his arrest, but he added that any suggestion that they violated his rights was "untrue."

John Walker was arrested at 3:30 a.m. on May 20 at the Ramada Inn in Rockville, and appeared before a federal magistrate in Baltimore about 12 hours later.

An FBI agent has testified that on May 24 Arthur Walker, a retired Navy lieutenant commander, confessed to participating in the espionage ring. An FBI agent in California has said in court that he believed Michael Walker admitted he passed documents to his father.

Meekins said that the material Arthur Walker is alleged to have sent to the Soviets was relatively insignificant militarily.

Arthur Walker is accused of giving the Soviets information rated "confidential" -- the lowest level of classified information -- relating to equipment breakdowns and repairs on Navy ships. He allegedly gathered the information from VSE Corp., the Chesapeake, Va., company where he worked as an engineer.

"Arthur Walker's position is that he has never done anything that is injurious to the United States, or to aid a foreign country," Meekins said after yesterday's hearing. Meekins said "no one has linked one piece" of the information that Walker allegedly took from VSE "to the Russians."